Keeping people connected at home


Digital council services for residents across the city are supporting older and vulnerable people's wellbeing by helping them to stay connected during these challenging times.


A wealth of events, activities and social sessions are available on digital platforms every day, bringing services into people's own homes, at a time when the ability to deliver face to face services and activities continues to be limited.


Services such as Cardiff Hubs and Libraries, Independent Living Services, the Advice service and Adult Learning's digital support team have pulled out all the stops bysignificantly increasing the digital offer for customers over the past nine months. Teams have invested considerable time and effort into digital solutions to ensure some of the city's most vulnerable citizens can access services to help combat social isolation.


Digital catch-ups, virtual exercise sessions, sing-a-longs, wellbeing phone calls and even a Christmas festival have brought people together, and helped form new connections and friendships from the comfort of people's own homes.


One such friendship has seentwo older men forming a firm bond that has helped them both through the past few months, thanks to an online introduction from the Council's Independent Living Services.


Glyn Willacott, 71, from Rumney and Norman Blackmore, 82, from Ely met when they were referred by Independent Living Services to Sporting Memories Foundation's online Cardiff club and the pair have recently featured in a short film made by S4C, showing how sport and technology are helping to keep social isolation at bay.


Norman said: "I can spend the whole of any day in silence but I have found these Zoom meetings have given me a second family, if you like," while Glyn said: "You get to meet other people and have a chatter."


This just one example of how the Council has adapted services to meet people's needs as everyone's daily lives have been impacted by the pandemic.


Hubs and libraries host daily online social sessions and health and wellbeing events to keep customers connected, a be-friending phone call service has been established by the Into Work Volunteering team and regular welfare calls are made to vulnerable citizens. The Council's Digital Cardiff team also host regular online events to support people to use digital solutions to stay in touch. For more details about services, please see below.



Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Wellbeing, Cllr Susan Elsmore, said: "We've all had to stay home much more than before, which has had a detrimental impact on many. Even when restrictions have eased, there have been those, particularly older people and the vulnerable, who have still been worried about leaving home and obviously, we are concerned about individuals becoming lonely and socially-isolated.


"Council services have really stepped up to the plate in response to this situation and I've heard  somegreat examples of the fruits of these endeavours, like Glyn and Norman's friendship. There is clearly a vast amount of work being carried out right across the city to reduce social isolation and we know it's making a real difference in people's lives."


Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities, Cllr Lynda Thorne said: "We're committed to continuing to support residents to access the wealth of free, open access services, activities and events we deliver to promote social connections and ensure thatbeing at home more doesn't need to be isolating.


"Online social events and support have been a real lifeline for many across the city throughout the pandemic and will continue to provide a vital service at this time."


Cardiff Hubs and Libraries service

A range of digital resources are available online and the service delivers regular events and sessions live on its Facebook page.


The new Hub Events website information on daily events run by the services and partners. The site is easy to navigate and allows visitors to search for events by date and depending on their interest, such as health and wellbeing sessions, reading events and fitness.



Dementia Friendly Cardiff website

The recently-launched Dementia Friendly Cardiff website is a source of useful information and support for people living with dementia and their families.  The site signposts to daily dementia-friendly activities and events such as online reminiscence sessions, sporting talks and musical memories zoom meet-ups.


Friends in Need Befriending Service

With funding from Age Cymru, the Council's Into Work Volunteering team is providing a local befriending service to over 50s, to provide information on local services and signpost people to any support they might need, as well as being on hand for a chat. Anyone interested in the service can call 029 2087 1071 or find out more.


Digital Support

With a strong focus on digital solutions, the Council has also supported people across the city to get to grips with new technology they may never have used before.The new Digital Cardiff team, part of the Adult Learning service, has worked hard since lockdown to offer free training and learning sessions from basic digital support for residents to more specific health and wellbeing related technologies.


Daily digital surgeries are held for clients while weekly webinars have helped people to use the NHS Track and Trace app and Google Classrooms.


Adult Learning digital courses

Adult Learning currently offers course through Google Classrooms. The classroom setting has always been a space for individuals to socialise and learn new skills so the team have used video calling software, Google Meet to allow pre-existing groups and a host of new students the ability to communicate easily. Online courses include Gain Confidence Online, Digital Skills, Getting to know your Smartphone and Tablet and Computing for Beginners.


The Council has also helped remove digital deprivation barriers by providing devices and access to the internet viavarious tablet gifting schemes, so those on low incomes and without an internet connection can apply for a tablet.

More information on Digital Cardiff's work and Adult Leaning is available here


Volunteering service

The Council hosts the Volunteer Cardiff website where, as well as the volunteering opportunities, clients can search and access support in their local area. There were more than 100,000 hits on the site from April to October.


Those without internet access can call the Advice line on 029 2087 1071 and will be put in touch with local groups that can help.


Advice Line

The Council's Adviceline hasplayed a crucial role in the city's response to ensuring vulnerable people in need are provided for during the pandemic. The service is availablesix days a week to help people with a range of issues including accessing food andessential items, claiming benefits and income, Into Work advice, Universal Credit advice and help with debts. Call 029 2087 1071, help with money


Welfare Calls

Throughout the pandemic, officers have made daily welfare calls to vulnerable citizens, mostly to those who live alone or have little contact with anyone. The call consists of a general chat but also ensures medication is being taken, and that citizens are eating well and feeling safe.

The Telecare team also carry out proactive welfare calls while the friendly Meals on Wheels drivers provide a welfare checkfor all clients on their rounds and refer to other services when needed.