Staying in Contact - UK Charity Initiatives
Updated: May 18
During the time of lock-down, we are all being encouraged to keep in contact with our families and friends and to use technology.
But what happens if your do not have friends or family; what happens if your are alone with no-one to talk to?
Isolation and loneliness can lead to a breakdown in mental health.
There are a number of initiatives in the UK to help Nuclear Veterans and their families, this blog looks at 2 such initiatives.
Project Fallout - BNTVA
Project Fallout has been funded by the Veterans Foundation to help the BNTVA reduce the isolation of their members to ensure their health and well-being are maintained during the crisis.
There are 2 aspects to Project Fallout:
The Social Hub will offer a befriending service to any member. They have recruited a team of volunteers who will provide regular communication and ensure that their members do not feel isolated or alone.
They also have 100 Amazon Fire tablets to give away to members to allow them to browse the internet and communicate with friends and family. (They do require an internet connection), these will be given away via a draw and delivered direct to your door. These are gifts from the BNTVA to help their members stay connected. You can install various apps, such as FaceBook, Netflix, Zoom etc.
To qualify for both aspects, you only need to be a paid up member of the BNTVA. You can call 0208 144 3080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register for the service and enter the prize draw.
A postal mailing has been sent to all members by the BNTVA so that anyone who does not have online capability will be able to access the service.
This is a fantastic initiative that is at no cost to the members of the BNTVA, staying in contact using their network of volunteers to ensure that their members health and well-being is maintained is crucial during the lock-down. Providing tablets to help people who have broadband will also open up new possibilities for many older veterans who do not currently video call, using these devices to chat to the befriending service will allow some face to face contact or will enable them to contact loved ones across the world, who maybe cannot help with immediate needs, but can provide social interaction.
So a no cost option to members who need help, through a Social Hub and help with technology at no cost. Sounds fantastic.
Conversa - The Nuclear Community Charity Fund (NCCF)
The NCCF are also providing tablets during the pandemic, these tablets are fully configured before delivery and if required, will have mobile data to allow people to connect to loved ones without a broadband connection.
The Conversa pad is an Android tablet with Google Hangouts installed, so each beneficiary will receive an email address and a device capable of video calling and browsing the internet.
You can also setup your own device with a Conversa resource if you already have a device. (Which is the same as installing Google Hangouts, which you can download for free at https://hangouts.google.com/)
However, all is not as it seems, these devices are not gifts to beneficiaries, they are loaned items during the pandemic, when the pandemic is over, you either have to purchase the device or give them back to the Charity.
They are offering 3 different options:
Use your own device - receive a registration number and a link to the on-line resources provided by the NCCF.
Device with WiFi connection - a device will be sent to you which is fully configured. It does have a mobile sim installed but it is a Pay as you Go Sim. The beneficiary must pay for any charges that incurr from using Mobile Data.
Device with mobile data - this device has a 2 year contract attached to it. The beneficiary has to sign a 2 year contract and pay any additional charges. during the 2 year period, above the 2-year 20GB unlimited data.
So you have to either pay top-up charges if you use mobile data on the internet enabled device or sign up for a two year contract and pay additional charges on the mobile data, should you incur them. The NCCF however are paying the monthly cost, it is just additional charges you are liable for.
Before you enter into any contract, you should be careful and ensure that you are aware of the charges.
Both organisations are offering help at this time of crisis and should be applauded for their efforts, the befriending service is a great scheme and will help everyone in need.
As for the tablets, the BNTVA have taken the decision to provide them free of charge, but not provide any mobile data because of the contractual obligations it brings. They are providing help to configure them via their volunteer network, but they are standard devices, which allow you to install any application from the Amazon store.
The NCCF are offering a completed configured tablet direct to your door, with mobile data from EE, unfortunately not everyone can get mobile data, so you would need to check the coverage and entering into a 2 year contract could incur extra charges. These are not gifts and require you to purchase or give them back after contract. You will not be able to install any other applications as they are controlled by the NCCF.
If you do not have broadband and want some connectivity, then the Conversa with mobile is the only option, but having to enter into a 2 year contract may put you off. If you have a need for a tablet and have broadband, then a free Amazon Fire tablet will allow you to install further apps which open up a whole new world (Facebook, Zoom, Netflix etc.)
Both are ensuring that the Nuclear Community are not forgotten during this time of crisis, it is entirely your choice.