It has been a while since the last update. Christmas and January were busy. We have launched the new digital hub at Stanstead Lodge, and started a new basic IT skills teaching session with Carers Lewisham. There are many projects in the pipeline at the moment, so this blog entry still seems a bit interim. However, after this much time, I think we owe you an update.

Paul and Lucy
The Stanstead Lodge Friday Digital Drop in

The Friday club is up and running. We have also been running a series of teaching sessions in Ewart Hall ICT suite for carers from Carers Lewisham. This is a repeat of the six sessions we ran back in October. Teaching carers has been a revelation to me. I have learned a lot about the constraints on their time that their care responsibilities place on them. Looking after someone who is a close relative creates great emotional pressure. Carers often find that on top of living with their relatives, and providing personal care, they also have to fight with medical and care services to ensure that their elderly relatives are looked after properly. It is a job that can seem to take over the life of the carer, and take them away from learning skills which will help their employment when the period of care is finished. There are also carers who are caring for a child with a medical condition which means they cannot fully support themselves. These conditions can range from ones that are apparent at birth, such as severe epilepsy, to ones that develop later in life, such as mental illness or injury. In both cases I have found that the digital skills of these carers are on the whole worse than those of the elderly people who come to our clubs. I don't want to be rude, but that is saying quite a lot.

We have a couple of new techy tea clubs coming in the future, although no dates are finalised. The Lewisham Irish Centre has invited us to run a club on their premises in Davenport road. This has been organised with the help of Vincent Lydon of Community Connections. We have got funding for it through the Neighbourhood Community Development Partnership (NCDP) Neigbourhood 2. Currently I don't get funding for any of the techy tea clubs, and I've said I'm not doing any more of them for nothing. We are also going to be starting a techy tea club at St Mauritius House with the support of Hyde Housing, although again the dates haven't been finalised.

On the Community Development front, the Ladywell Assembly have approached me about building a website for them. There is in fact already a site created for them in Wordpress. However the developer has vanished. It is the same developer who vanished after starting the Lewisham Local website, which I was then asked to work on by the Rushey Green Time Bank. I owe this guy a lot, as he is leaving a trail of work for me. He has also had another positive impact on my work. The Wordpress theme he is using is called Soledad. It is a paid-for theme. Up until now I have been using free Wordpress themes. However. the Ladywell Assembly have said they will pay for a new copy of Soledad. Having the opportunity to work on paid for themes like Soledad has made me realise the difference in quality they bring to a site. A good theme gives a professional look that is hard to achieve if you are not a designer. My background is in the technical aspect of web development, rather than the design side. I managed to obtain a  theme called Flow News and added it to the Honor Oak Community Centre website. This has made a significant improvement to the look of the site, as I think you can see if you compare it to what it used to look like! 

HOC website
Old Honor Oak CC website
new HOC site
New Honor Oak CC Site

The work with Tim Bradley's Wellbeing map has taken a new direction. Tim has suggested working on a web application that could enable people to find community services in their area. It is not a completely new idea. However Tim got the inspiration for it from a company called Happity, who help parents find activity clubs for toddlers. It turns out that the founder of Happity, Sara Tateno, lives in Lewisham and takes her children to Heartbeeps in Ewart Community Hall where Catbytes is based. We invited her to meet us, which she very kindly consented to. We had a fascinating and engaged meeting during which we discovered a lot of common ground. The Wellbeing Map is aiming at putting people in touch with local community services, and Happity connect people with services that are run as small businesses. However, there are many services that benefit parents which are not small businesses, such as changing facilities or breast-feeding friendly cafes. As a result of this conversation I have decided to build a web application which can help people find techy tea clubs in Lewisham. In fact I have been working on something similar using Ruby on Rails over Christmas. There will be more updates on this in the near future.

birthday cakeOn a final note. I would like to thank those of you who got me a surprise cake for my birthday. Apparently it had the correct number of candles on it, although I removed them before I took this picture!


By Damian Griffiths at 11 Feb 2019, 09:06 AM

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