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On Monday we had the first of three morning sessions teaching basic IT skills to tenants of Blackmore House on Stanstead Road. The house backs right onto a garden which is owned by Stanstead Lodge, which I have been going to for the last few months to teach Wordpress on a Friday. At least I thought the garden was owned by Stanstead Lodge, but some of the residents of Blackmore House seem to think otherwise. I have heard there are occasionally disputes between representatives of each organisation, mainly centering around the garden and access rights to it. In fact, the back doors of the room we were teaching in at Blackmore House do open right onto the Stanstead Lodge garden. One wonders what Chislehurst and Sidcup Housing Association, the owners of Blackmore House, had in mind building those doors to the garden which could only have given their tenants false hope.

Robert, Melanie (a new volunteer) and I had a good session helping Ruby, Chetra, Claude and Princess develop their skills. As all tenants of Blackmore house are automatically members of Stanstead Lodge, hopefully we will be seeing them at the new improved digital drop in we will be running there on Fridays 1-3pm. 

These three sessions are entirely voluntary. I only agreed to do them after a bit of arm-twisting from Lorna Langford Foster, who works for Chislehurst and Sidcup Housing Association. Also, the dates we agreed to happen to coincide with Get Online Week. This all helps with PR. I don't believe techy tea clubs can ever make money. As I have to survive, I am looking into ways that they can be funded. I don't know anything about funding, having always worked in the private sector. However, this week there has been a bit of good news. Lewisham Pensioners Forum have managed to secure some money to support the Monday techy tea club through the Lewisham Central Ward Assembly bidding process on Thursday. This is one of the best ways of trying to make a small amount of money for a good cause in the borough. Groups put their applications forward with the amounts they want included. Some of those groups are approved for the Assembly event. Then the public come and hear the groups give their elevator pitch style speeches about why they should get the money. In the end the public vote. They are allowed as many votes as there are groups, and they can not vote for any group more than once. For a group not to get the funding less than 50% of the votes must go to them. On top of this, I am not convinced that the votes are actually counted. If you examine the process carefully, you can see that the likelihood is that if your group gets through to the assembly, then it likely to secure the funding.

This might seem like a Vladimir Putin-esque style of democratic decision making. However, it is important to remember that these events are designed to generate a positive feeling for people who are working to improve life in the borough. It doesn't help if anyone is left with nothing. The money is already allocated to facilitate local groups, so it has to go somewhere. The residents of Lewisham will benefit. Very few of them are interested in this kind of event. Whenever you go to one you see a lot of familiar faces. 

I may be in luck with another of the funding bid events that took place this week. Tim Bradley of the Lewisham Wellbeing Map put forward a bid to the NCDP Area 4 Application event. NCDP stands for Neighbourhood Communities Development Partnerships. It means wards being bunched together in to pool resources. They are part of the process whereby national health concerns direct focus towards local organisations that can promote "wellbeing", which stops people bothering the doctor so much. NCPD Area 4 means Bellingham, Crofton Park, Forest Hill, Perry Vale and Sydenham wards. Catbytes have our office this area. In fact, the NCDP Area 4 Application event was held in Ewart Hall where our office is. Again, there were many familiar faces.

I have been in conversation with Tim Bradley recently about how I could collaborate with him over the Wellbeing Map. Julian Rouse of the Bellingham Community Project, with whom I did a bit of work earlier this year, promoted what the map could do. They got the funding. Watch this space.

On Thursday we did the last of the basic IT skills training for carers for Carers Lewisham. I have enjoyed the time I have spent teaching the carers. It has given me some insight into the difficulties that are faced by people who have responsibility for someone who can't look after themselves. The carers rarely get time for anything once they are in this situation. Generally their IT skills, if they have any, were acquired at an earlier stage than when they were caring. 

On the Thursday afternoon session we had an interesting change from the normal subject matter. One of the carers, Patricia, has been wanting help selling on Ebay for a while. She brought in an interesting object to photograph. It was a very delicate set of scales. There was some German writing on the side. The other carer, Eva, was German and was able to translate it for us. The scales came in a box which was made using a kind of plastic whose name we managed to track down using Wikipedia and other Google searches. It was lucite. We looked up lucite jewelry online, and more about the history of plastics from their foundations. It was probably the most engaged group I have ever worked with, and Eva remarked that investigating plastics had really taken her mind off things.
Submitted by catbytes on Sun, 10/14/2018 - 00:00