Ponthafren Association

Digital Communities

Ponthafren Association

Ponthafren Association is a registered charity, catering for people who experience mental health issues, those who may be socially isolated or excluded, or those who may just wish to make new friends or gain new skills. It serves the community in and around the very rural area of North Powys. The Association offers centres where people can relax, chat and have a chance to participate in a wide range of workshops, activities and courses if they wish. In-house support is available and the association can signpost to other organisations and specialist support services.
Its members are adults aged from 18 plus. Some are socially isolated or excluded, have poor mental health, may be long term unemployed or are unable to work. The Association also works with carers groups, social housing groups and health and wellbeing groups.

DCW loaned a number of tablet devices, FitBits and a laptop to the Association to enable it to provide digital support to its service users. The kit also improved the effectiveness of other activities run by the organisation.

Julia Gorman, Resource Centre Facilitator at Ponthafren Association said: “We recognised we needed to have access to digital kit, as our members require digital equipment for many things such as job searches and updating Curriculum Vitae’s. Many of our members don’t have access to wifi as they cannot afford to pay broadband fees. They also don’t have digital equipment and for this reason some of our members are unable to keep a connection with friends and family who don’t live in the area – this can lead them to feel excluded.

“When staff were running courses and attending groups, we were finding we were unable to take pictures or look up information and recognised we needed a tablet. We already had two standalone PCs, however we didn’t have tablets that members could use.

“Since having the DCW kit, I have been able to do community talks regarding the nutrition and exercise and show the audience how the Fitbits work. Since I have been to those groups I have had feedback they’ve actually gone out and bought themselves similar fitness watches.

“We have been able to show our members apps on the tablets whereby they can save money by learning how to budget. We ran a carers group session where participants were able to come along and learn what they wanted to, with our staff helping them to set up things on tablets and showing them how to navigate them. Members who take part in our painting groups were able to find paintings on Pinterest they wanted to paint.

“We are now hoping to find funding to replace some of the tablets and a laptop as our members have become so use to having access to these we have found there is a need for them now. The tablets we were loaned by DCW enabled our members to keep connected with their social/family circles. This had a huge positive impact on our members.

“We run a health and wellbeing group which encourages members to get fitter and eat more healthily. In our groups it’s great to show members different apps that help promote these things, such as Runkeeper for exercise and MyFitnessPal where people can track the food they have eaten. The DCW Fitbits enabled a couple of volunteers to count their steps and track an increase their fitness. One lady told me it had “remotivated her fitness and encouraged her to get out more and improve her self-esteem by meeting with more people”.

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