Success with smartphones


My name’s Maria Jones, and I work for KeyRing, which is a health and social care charity. My patch is Sandwell in the West Midlands. I’m responsible for the Creating Connections project here and I just wanted to share a couple of our success stories with you!

Mel’s story

Mel had never had a smartphone before and so of course she wasn’t sure how to use one. I asked around and tracked down a Doro phone, which are generally pretty straightforward to get to grips with, and Mel and I worked together to see what it could do.

We managed to set up both WhatsApp and Zoom and have practiced using them together on a weekly basis. As a result, Mel has been able to join the regular WhatsApp video chat for Sandwell members, keeping in touch with old friends in a new way and meeting new people too.

Mel is now also able to access emails on her phone and we’re working on using that as another way to connect, as well as on exploring the internet more widely – for example, watching YouTube videos. She often tells me how much she’s enjoyed learning something new and I know having the opportunity to see and chat with other people has been really important to her.

Trisha’s story

Trisha had recently bought a smartphone herself and within just a few days of support, she was sending me links to a Google Duo chat, as well as using WhatsApp and joining video calls. 

Clearly Trisha was a natural and had got off to a flyer, but what’s so great about it is that she’s now able to video chat with other people within KeyRing who’d like to use technology in the same way.

The experience has been especially valuable for Trisha because she’s among the people classed as extremely clinically vulnerable and has been shielding - unlike some of our other members, she wasn’t able to go out much even between lockdowns. Through our group WhatsApp calls, for example, she’s been able to meet a lot of new people and make a lot of new friends.

It’s still only early days for us with this project, but I think it’s great. As it’s gone along I’ve seen members become more and more comfortable and confident using their tech. They’re excited, smiling, happy to be building new skills and being able to ‘meet’ each other through video calls during this lockdown. It’s lovely to see how this lifts their mood and gives them something to look forward to.