W Bro Mark Russel SLGR reports

The Sudbury Neighbourhood Centre is a registered charity founded in 1979 with the aim of providing day-care for vulnerable, elderly people in the London Borough of Brent.

They currently support over two hundred people each year, providing stimulating daily activities, assisted transport and nutritious meals.

Their service users have an average age of 82, come from all ethnic backgrounds and 49% are female. Coming from one of the poorest areas in the country, most have limited income and savings. Many have dementia and other complex conditions such as strokes, cancer, osteoporosis, and a raft of others and all have high care needs.

Statistics provided by an independent research group showed that 92% of clients felt less lonely because of attending the Centre, 88% report improved mental health and 86% improved physical health. 100% of clients said that they loved coming to the Centre!

Many elderly people have no or limited experience with computing and are nervous about using it even though it has significant benefits for them. For example, using the internet and computers can help them reduce loneliness (we all know about the benefits of Zoom), assist them with paying bills, find out information and make friends as they learn and boost their skills in many areas.

Seeing the benefits to their service users, the Sudbury Neighbourhood Centre holds weekly computer lessons hosted by a part-time, fully qualified IT Tutor who provides a regular, structured learning plan based around the City & Guilds ICT Entry Level 3 qualification. They have a bespoke computer suite and each of the five half-day lessons held each week has eight attendees.

Whilst they make a small charge to their clients for these lessons this does not cover the full cost of providing the service and in October 2019 the charity approached the London Freemasons Charity to apply for a grant to cover the shortfall and enable them to continue their work in 2020. Without hesitation the London Freemasons Charity agreed a donation of £3,000.

Neil White, Chief Executive says; I am extremely grateful to The London Freemasons for the wonderful grant of £3,000 awarded to us in 2020, which has been used to run computer training classes in our Centre for older adults. Many older adults have limited access or knowledge of the internet and are at a disadvantage in our digital world. Our training enables them to learn the skills and gain the confidence they need to explore the benefits that internet can bring to them, including access to information, online food shopping, contacting friends and families, as well as accessing services.

The Coronavirus pandemic has shown the usefulness of this training which has literally provided a lifeline for many older people who have been isolated in their homes since March of this year. The training we have provided has enabled our service users to access Zoom and other virtual face to face platforms during 2020 to great benefit. We are so grateful to The London Freemasons Charity for the ongoing support for our work which has made real differences to people s lived experience.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 43 January 2021 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 43.