Celebrating connection!

Throughout December, we celebrated those of you making a digital skills difference to others.  We asked you to share your stories and gave away a £100 prize every week.


Thanks to everyone who shared their inspiring and interesting ideas and experiences. You can read them all below, and check out our winners' stories. They recommended Zoom and FaceBook in difficult times; used Virtual Reality; taught in different languages and kept adapting & learning no matter what!


Please keep on sharing your ideas - they continue to inspire and motivate!

Share your story

Connectors' Tips and Ideas


Early October 2020, my mother’s elderly neighbour, Ruby, caught my attention to ask my advice. My 91-year-old mother had told her I was a 'Computer World Champion' or some other wildly inaccurate title! 

Ruby's lodger had recently moved out and left behind what she called a ‘computer thingy’! It turned out to be a laptop, rather scuffed up with ELO stickers on the lid but apparently still working. The lodger said she could have it, but Ruby didn't know how to use it.

When I took it away to check it out, it was a Windows 10, reset, ready to be registered with a new user. Ruby agreed that I should set it up for her, the updates took ages! 

She was looking forward to learning computing, to have an email address and learn to use Zoom to keep in touch. I was hoping its rather slow processor, but thankfully adequate RAM would be up to the job.

Unfortunately, Ruby has had bouts of illness on & off since October that have postponed some of her computing sessions, so her learning has been a slow process. Early December Ruby fell ill again and was hospitalised for nearly 2-weeks, so our remote Quick Assist sessions stopped abruptly. When she returned home 2-weeks before Christmas she was eager to restart.  She was most concerned that she hadn't bought or written any Christmas cards. Also, was baffled that a person she didn't know had emailed her a gift. She was worried too, that she'd done no food shopping, and with a possible no deal Brexit looming, and a virtual lockdown, this was serious. When we resumed our Quick Assist sessions, I discovered she had received a 'Jacqui Lawson' Get Well Soon card including a gift of a 1-year JL membership subscription from her best friend, which was not actually sent by a real person, Jacqui Lawson!

I must admit, the email address & subject line says JL, I understood Ruby's initial confusion.

The JL gift card membership subscription was from her best friend, partly to congratulate her on finally having an email address, getting connected & learning digital things. A generous, nice friend, I believe she is very digital at the grand age of 86!

Having explained the concept of E.cards, Ruby had a good idea .... I confess, I did shudder a little, 10 days before Christmas, a very new learner, and with a slower device than I’m used to! 

Nevertheless, we did marathon Quick Assist sessions that went on for 3.5 hours on 18th December, another 2 hours on 21st & 22nd December.

I helped Ruby compile her contacts in Gmail (she had already done her homework in getting all her friends & family email addresses before she went into hospital). I then helped her set up the Jacqui Lawson account, a simple process.  I added her 14 contacts in the address directory. She chose & wrote her cards, I helped her to schedule the send date, and set up reminders for birthdays and anniversaries she could remember. 

(I did think during the long process, I could have gone to the high street, bought the cards for Ruby to write in half the time ..... oh no I couldn't, we were in a lockdown!)

I had created a Sainsbury shopping account for Ruby, but unfortunately the time did not allow me to help order her Christmas shopping online, and no doubt all delivery slots would have gone by then anyway.

Also, time didn’t allow her to experience Zoom, that would have been nice for her during the festive period.

However, extra brownie points were earned, I acted as chief shopper and deliverer for Ruby when doing my mother’s Sainsbury click & collect Christmas shop on 23rd December.So, Christmas was almost sorted for Ruby just in time, but I had to giggle, I never got a Christmas card from her! 

Whilst the novelty lasts, I can hear the rustle of Yellow Pages as I write (we haven't got around to Yell.com yet!).  Joke not, I think number 10 may just receive a JL thankyou card for Mr BoJo in achieving some sort of a deal! Ruby was very keen, and it did make me smirk; as an 81-year-old Dublin citizen, not likely to ever travel again, she will remain in the EU come what may! Perhaps she was worried about her Guinness being stuck in the middle of the Irish sea!

Which reminds me, I must ask her to mention the 'Computer World Champion' I might just make the NY Honours list!!

If you would like to help a Learner using Quick Assist, I will be doing a short session on ‘How to use Quick Assist’ on Tuesday 26th January.

Click the Jacqui Lawson notelet link below to find out more about joining our weekly Zoom coffee mornings.

Woven Words - animated ecard by Jacquie Lawson     (I hope it works)

Thank you

Ann Crago 

Digital Champion - (not a World Champion!)

PS     Lidl ‘Sticky Stuff Remover’ did a fine job on ELO!

Digital Unite

Dear Computer World Champion! What a tale of connections and connecting. Thank you so much for sharing. You certainly supported Ruby to cover all the digital bases with cards to friends, reminders for birthdays, shopping in lockdown - the Guinness deliveries are safe, that's all we need to know going into 2021. And wonderful to know all are welcome at your session on January 26th, the e-card opens perfectly. Wishing you a very happy New Year and continued power to your Connector elbow(s). All the best from DU.


Hello. We did a great thing at our work Xmas 'social' which was, obviously, on Zoom like a lot of life these days. We played Pictionary - you know when you get given a word and you have to draw it and the others guess. Well turns out there are tools in Zoom that allow you to all write/draw on a white board - it was great fun it really was. I have been on Zoom for  the past 7 months and I had no idea the tools were even there. Just goes to show you can teach old dogs new tricks. Anyway, thanks to my colleagues, I now have Zoomy Pictionary lined up for Xmas day games with the family. Yessss. Recent tiers and all the rest, we're keeping it small and remote so stuff like this is going to be really good. 

Digital Unite

Barney, thank you very much for sharing and thanks to your colleagues for being so inventive. Sounds like a great use of Zoom, a really nice way to engage family and folk of all ages. And, good for mouse/cursor control practice to boot, using drawing tools! Great work, happy connecting and all the best, DU.


WOW wow wow

I can't take the credit for this idea, it's one of your suggestions in the Xmas section, but ...... I have managed to get my old Dad INTERESTED  in a website - about how to print stamps! I cannot believe  it. THIS is what he's been waiting to touch a keyboard for. Thank you thank you thank you. 

In case you missed it - get to it  here   https://connect.digitalunite.com/content/print-stamps  and get going.

BRILLIANT  I am not shouting but you need to understand what an event this is. 

Thank you!

Digital Unite

Hello Tim, so glad to hear you've used one of the Xmas Resources to connect! Yes, we at DU Towers were also pretty excited about printing stamps it has to be said. So, very glad you both got something out of it too! Thanks for connecting and keep it up, this is just the start of your father's online adventuring. All the best, DU


Where I work, we have started introducing elderly residents (many of whom have been shielding/self-isolating for most of this year, which has taken its toll on people's mental health) to the wonder of virtual reality!!! For people with mobility issues, to be able to experience (virtually) 'being' at the beach and/or woodland, from the comfort of one's own home - simply through wearing an affordable VR headset -  is truly incredible and has given them a real boost, being able to escape from the current pandemic, if even for a little while 

Top tip? Find out what an individual's interests/passions are and then find a suitable VR experience that's perfect for them (as you can get all sorts - from touring round Anne Frank's House, meditating or even seeing dinosaurs up close); there really is something for everyone!

Digital Unite

This is a brilliant idea - thank you so much for sharing it! What a great use of VR technology!

Community Hub

This sounds so great, it's sparked loads of ideas for me too and the people I support, when we can get back in there to do so. Meantime, any tips on getting the older folk started with the kit - including 'watch out for' things? Any tips on  choosing the kit ??? Many thanks, Genna


We run a digital inclusion project with families in our community. This includes 1-2-1 and group suuport, as well as whatsapp groups and video explainers that we create! As we have a strong Latin American community we are also running these services in Spanish and the project is lead by parent volunteers that are part of this community. 

My tip is if you are offering support to members of the community that do not have english as their first language is it helpful to offer support in different forms. We find that voice notes and screen recordings sent through whatsapp are easy to understand and share in the community. 

Digital Unite

Hola Ellie! Thanks so much for sharing such great insights around supporting others in other langauages. We loved hearing about your use of voice notes etc - it  makes  perfect sense as a way to build, share and consolidate skill. Simple, but creative and highly effective. Keep up the great work! DU


I unfortunately lost my beautiful partner earlier this year - it was completely unexpected and I am still finding it hard to come to terms with. Her family and I have found it very hard to navigate our grief while being socially distant and unable to meet up. 

I watched zoom tutorials on Youtube that gave me the confidence to help family members set up zoom calls. Some people found it incredibly easy whilst others struggled finding the microphone or kept sitting within an inch of the screen! Once we got the hang of it, I found it was a quick simple way to stay connected and explore our grief and remember the wonderful person sadly taken from us.

My top tip would be to build up confidence gradually by expanding on previous skills. For example, we first started learning how to send and accept invitations so just spoke on the call. Next we explored turning the video on. Then we set the challenge of creating a slideshow of images we could share with others using the screenshare option. Now seasoned pros, I am now looking at games we can play together virtually by one person screensharing and others playing along on their mobile (Drawful) - looks silly and fun!

Tricky times indeed but I am grateful that such impressive technology exists!

Digital Unite

Drewseph, we were very moved to hear your story and sending thoughtfulness and compassion at such a difficult time for you and the family. How good to hear that digital tech has been able to support you to support each other.  It was also very insightful of you to share your thoughts around building confidence and skill one small digital step at a time. Wishing you all well and that your digital explorations together continue to help and offer some consolation through connection. All the best, DU


Earlier this year, I created a facebook group for people who live on my estate, we are now upto 82 members, we were collecting for the foodbanks throughout the summer and have continued to offer support to each other, as neighbours, sometimes with serious issues, providing links to people seeking assistance, othertimes in a more lighthearted way to provide support and a way to communicate with each other as neighbours.  Facebook isn't new but it fits the demographic of the people who live here and a way to communicate with each other when we haven't communicated before.  Its provided a sense of community not previously felt here. Through this, I have also been able to continue with my volunteer role as a Digital Champion, providing links too, to easy online tutorials for people to improve their online skills. I am now starting a neighbourhood watch, with the intention of attracting some crime prevention resources as garden and car thefts are on the rise here.  Although most of us have a support network made up of family and friends, not everyone has this in their lives and I am proud to be part of an online group that will respond quickly to anyone who needs help or even just a chat if they are feeling lonely and don't want to access 'official' services although we provide links to those services too. I started by creating the facebook group then printing off some posters for the flat communal doors, some leaflets (4 to a sheet to save on paper and printing) to put through accessible doors and laminated some signs to put on the lampposts.  It's been lovely to see new residents joining the group and introducing themselves and people keen to offer assistance with local information. If I win the prize money, I intend to use the money to buy some crime prevention tools for people on the estate like little alarms that go off when someone opens a back gate, for instance to help with crime prevention. 

Digital Unite

Hello Peridot, you've been quite the digital whirlwind on your estate - power to your elbow! It sounds like your efforts and support have been fundamentally useful to others in all sorts of ways, lighthearted and more serious. Brilliant work and long may it continue. All the best, DU


Our residents recently voted to have our piano removed from our communal lounge as no one has used it for about 5 years. The Piano has now gone to a church cafe group. At Christmas they will be live streaming a carol service via Zoom so that people can join in. Our customers will be attending the session via either our WhatsApp or Facebook group set up for customers only.

Digital Unite

Ah LisaC live streaming carols is one of our top tips for Xmas too. Really hope that'll lift spirits and feel communcal in a digitally connected way. Well done you for getting the groups set up too. Enjoy! DU


I have a 30 minute call on Microsoft Teams every morning with the team while our office remains closed, we check in with one another, discuss any issues and do a quiz.  It has really helped us to all feel connected and stay part of team when we haven't physically been together for so long.  I also did a funny live video every Friday during lockdown miming to a song and wearing a silly wig in a bid to boost morale.

Digital Unite

Hello CSM we loved hearing about your morale boosting wig singing too! These are the things that make a difference aren't they when everyone is doing their best but inevitably feeling disconnected. At DU Towers we've not seen each other in person for months and months and months .. it's such a lack. Thank goodness for video sharing that's for sure. All the best - keep it up! DU

Connecting Carers

Hiya.. we have digital champions supporting unpaid family and friend carers who have been left excluded as a result of the pandemic. These fabulous champions have been calling people and helping them set up tablets and laptops over the phone (no easy task) to get them online and talking to family and friends as well as joining in our online support groups. We have seen some marvellous results with people who were desperately isolated now accessing all kinds of services from talking to loved ones on Skype or zoom, joining book groups, shopping and banking online and generally connecting to others.. a life changing project.

Digital Unite

Connecting Carers, we loved hearing about your work. As you say, really actually life changing to be able to connect to the isolated and support them to connect to the world by connecting their carers too. It's so multi-faceted too, isn't it, as you say there's the 'practical' life management stuff and then essential soul support stuff - talking to loved ones, being connected to people people people - being able to share - when we've all been so distanced. We salute you and your fabulous Champs. All the best, DU


Lots of us will see our families and friends this Christmas, but many people still won't be able to, either through choice ot it's just not possible for one or more reasons due to Covid-19.  

A postman posting a Christmas card through the door is lovely.  A neigbour popping in will be welcoming.  TV and radio might be comforting. A phone call will save the day.

But somehow the 'connection' is not there and it can be very lonely.

Why not send your loved one, your best friend, someone you care about a short video that is so easy to do using Loom. It's available for free, it is very easy to sign up, even easier to use and get going. You can create a video very quickly, send a link in an email or a WhatsApp message.

One of the best features, if you don't like yourself too much in 'full screen' view, you can choose the 'Screen and Camera' option.  This means that you could sit in front of your Christmas tree, or in front of your favourite picture on the wall, or your lovely garden behind you, or your baby in your lap, these all could be your back-drop to your video.  Your video picture will be playing as you speak but shown in a small frame on the screen which cannot be enlarged (no special hair-do or fancy dress, and they can't see your warts & all!)  The free version of Loom gives you 5 miniutes of video, and up to 100 video recordings. So if a 5 minuite recording is too short, record a few bite size recordings to send to the one you care about and you can't see this year.

Type 'Loom' into Google, or sign up at www.loom.com   It so easy it's silly not to! The video quality and sound is great as well.  

I'm addicted to it, and I think it'll be a comforting substitute for a real person not joining you this festive season.  


Digital Unite

Dearest AnnC at DU Towers we suspect you are 'our' AnnC,  one of 'our super Digital Champs! Thanks for this great and useful tip. Isn't Loom terrfic, we've also been having some fun with it - using it to explain a work brief or task to a colleague for example will make it useful beyond Xmas. But agreed, ALL 'the fun you can have with it at Christmas .. do share some festive Looms, AnnC, if you think we can all delight in them! All the best, DU


I recently taught my grandparents how to use WhatsApp to message and video call. They were so amazed that you can do a video call with more than one other person at the same time though their mobile device! This is a great tool especially as I won’t be able to visit them this Christmas. I am a new volunteer to the world of Digital Skills/Inclusion, so I soon look forward to helping other people gain confidence with using technology and the internet.

Digital Unite

Amy, thanks for sharing and well done you as a new volunteer. Isn't it a joy to see others delight at something we with digital know-how feel is so 'normal'?! WhatsApp is a real favourite and so easy with beginners too. Keep up the great work! All the best, DU 


Volunteer Midlothian's Connect Online project ran drop in sessions in libraries and community hubs before lockdown. We moved to online groups in April using Zoom, first talking everyone through downloading/installing and using Zoom.  The online sessions are weekly and a mix of current affairs, chat and digital skills!  This is followed up by a weekly email with links to more information on topics, online training courses and interesting online events, all of which encourages our learners to go online in between the sessions.  It has been very successful, as people gained in confidence they became involved in other online community groups such as the Older People's Assembly.

Digital Unite

What brilliant, resourceful, thoughtful work VMConnectOnline! Really great you were able to move so quickly to actually get the groups online back in April. These skills are so transferable too, as in once your folk have the confidence to do all this remotely with you then joining other sorts of remote sessions and gatherings will feel intuitive - as you are seeing. We're impressed by the way you then give them things to do between sessions. Great way to keep the learning and exploring building and just really useful to give folk things to do! Cheers, DU

John from Knutsford

I helped my neighbour set up his online banking. He’s been worried about going to the bank and it’s made a huge difference to him. It’s kept him safe but he also feels like he’s in control, especially at Christmas when he’s starting to shop online.

Digital Unite

Hi John - nice! And such important stuff managing money, managing money worries. Do read some of our resources around privacy and security just for your peace of mind also. You should never for example seel to know other people's log in details or passwords, but helping them keep those details safe and secure for their own use is important. Happy shopping! Cheers, DU


I taught my nan to zoom and every week, I put my computer on the sideboard and we chat while I cook our tea. My kids run in and out and she tells me about her week, and sometimes I forget and burn things, and it’s great. We’re doing tea together on Christmas Eve.  It’s not the real thing but it’s a great connection.

Digital Unite

What an easy and fun thing to do to keep connected. Bet your Nan loves it! Being part of teatime chaos with the kids and the burnt offerings is all part of the fun. Enjoy Christmas Eve. All the best, DU


I have started an online book group with staff across the county network of libraries where I work. Everyone's morale has been really low and we miss engaging with our borrowers and with each other. We decided the book via email, and are going to come together for an online team session using cams/mics so we can see everyone.


Digital Unite

Hey Christina, what a great idea to keep connected with each other. I bet you miss borrowers - we miss libraries! Getting together with video will be fun too. Check out some of the resources on this site if you'd like to consider a range of platforms/ options, though if you all use Teams already that'd be logical. Enjoy! All the best, DU

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