Australian born Bernie McDade, 68, moved to London twelve years ago for his job. Since retiring, three years ago, and experiencing some financial difficulties, Bernie has lived in sheltered accommodation alongside thirty others in the heart of Westminster.
Last year Bernie underwent surgery on his hip and his foot, which led to him being house bound during his recovery. “It can be very lonely living in central London,” Bernie told us, “even though you’re surrounded by people, you don’t always see them and if you do they are rushing here and there. It can be really isolating, especially when you’re in ill health. When you feel as lonely as I did in that period of my life you feel so sorry for yourself, so down. It’s so easy to lose your confidence and start to question your own judgement. ” Bernie spent his time by watching television, which he said was very boring as it’s such a passive form of media.
Through a third party referrer, Bernie found out about the grants service offered by Friends of the Elderly. “I was so surprised to hear I could get a laptop and mouse as a grant. I had no idea the charity was so keen to promote digital connection amongst my age group – it’s really a fantastic thing and something more older people should see if they can apply for.” Friends of the Elderly’s grants service invites those living on low incomes to apply for support from the charity to help with home essentials, digital connection and unexpected bills.
Bernie has a good level of computer knowledge but due to low income was unable to purchase IT equipment to use in his retirement. “Having a laptop has given me a window to the world,” said Bernie, who regularly uses his computer to stay in touch with family and friends back in Australia. “All the feelings of isolation and loneliness have evaporated now I have my computer. I’m never bored, I am connected. I use it to look up old films, keep up to date with the news and for more practical things like food shopping and bus timetables. It keeps my mind active, I’m learning all the time. I’ve started teaching myself Spanish using a free website and I regularly play games like solitaire.”
“I really want other older people to embrace technology – the limits are endless. It’s so liberating. I never thought just a few months ago that I would be in this position. I’m so happy; I absolutely love my new computer and want to say a massive thank you to Friends of the Elderly for granting me it.”
To find out more about Friends of the Elderly grants and how to apply, click here.