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Coronavirus resilience boost good news for Highland Senior Citizens’ Network as SSEN steps in to help those without computers or smartphones

By Hector MacKenzie

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Anne McDonald, a coordinator for the Highland Senior Citizens Network.
Anne McDonald, a coordinator for the Highland Senior Citizens Network.

A grant from from an energy company's resilience fund is helping to ensure elderly people in the Highlands who don’t have a computer or smartphone can still keep in touch with the latest help and advice during the coronavirus pandemic.

SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund is helping Highland Senior Citizens’ Network (HSCN) improve resilience amongst the older members of Highland communities.

With the introduction of social distancing guidelines, previous plans have had to be re-thought, and this has seen the HSCN team go back to basics and put all of its useful content into a traditional newsletter format.

With nearly 100 groups across the Highlands and 300 individual members spread out across the region, part of the grant from last year’s SSEN Resilient Communities Fund has helped with the publication of the newsletter as well as the postage costs.

Jo Cowan, HSCN co-ordinator, said: “Before lockdown was announced, SSEN’s grant had been helping us develop our plans to work with community groups, libraries and community radio stations across the Highlands to share essential information that can really make a difference to our members.

“We’re looking at a variety of ways to share tips and practical information with our members, topics such as home safety advice from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, details on our partnership with Home Energy Scotland, the free help and support that is available through SSEN’s Priority Service Register, basically anything that will help our members develop their own personal resilience and have a positive impact on their day-to-day lifestyles.”

Anne McDonald, HSCN co-ordinator for the North of Highland added: "The first few weeks of lockdown saw our team busy producing the newsletter for our groups and members, getting them enveloped up and ready for the post; it was quite a task, but it’s all been worthwhile when we started to get the positive feedback from people who were pleased to be hearing from us. We’re already working on the latest newsletter as it’s important to keep in touch with our members and friends at this time.”

Pamela Harvey, SSEN’s customer relationship manager for the Highlands said: “We’re delighted to be able to help the HSCN, their commitment to developing resilience amongst older people across the Highlands is a great example of the Resilient Communities Fund in action.

“By putting all of their invaluable information into a series of newsletters, it means that any members who don’t have access to a computer or smartphone can still keep up to date and not feel excluded, something that is so important in these challenging times."

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