Getting ready for Get Online Week in October

Try 1 Thing

Get Online Week 2017 aims to help 15.2 million people in the UK who are not making full use of the internet. The campaign is encouraging them to take a next step toward crossing the digital divide – by asking them to Try 1 Thing – use the internet to do just one thing that they usually do offline.

It could be their first online shopping experience or video call, setting up online banking, GP appointments or benefit claims, or applying for a job online – anything that they haven’t had the skills or confidence to try before now.

It’s not just for those who have never used a computer or tablet. Millions of people who can use a smartphone to read the news, use Facebook, or send online messages, aren’t able to undertake more complex online tasks like filling in forms and finding reliable advice and information. They’re missing out on all the financial, social and health benefits the internet offers.

For these people, choosing just one task that they’ve not previously done online and the getting the help they need to get started, can be a big next step to becoming a more confident user of the internet. They just need to go along to a local Get Online Week event to Try 1 Thing!

Looking Forward to Handmade Parade Sunday 25 June

We can’t believe that it’s now the 10th annual Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade as celebration and spectacle is brought to our streets.

Sunday, 25 June, 2017

Parade at noon. Mini-festival in the park from 1-4pm

The Hebden Bridge Handmade Parade is an annual celebration of funkiness, the art of the handmade and is just sheer fun! The magic happens in three weeks of workshops, open to anyone who wants to make costumes, carryable art or help create giant puppets. With an ace team of local professional carnival artists, volunteers, guest artists and some killer street bands, we create just the occasion for up to 1000 people to dance down the streets of Hebden Bridge, watched by thousands.

Seriously, you don’t want to miss this.

Change of venue for Todmorden presentations

Sorry to say that despite the great support given to us by Incredible Aqua Garden issues around guests moving through the school grounds have caused an insurmountable Safeguarding issue and we will therefore need to move the FREE presentations to a different venue. We will keep everyone informed when this is settled. Thanks again AquaGarden and keep on being Incredible.

What can the Internet do for Me?



A series of FREE presentations at the Incredible Aqua Garden starting Wednesday 7 June at 10:00. Many people who have grown up without the Internet wonder what use is it to them. These presentations show you that as well as the boring stuff like applying for vehicle tax, there are fun things to be had online – finding music you thought you’d never hear again on YouTube, tracing your ancestors through, finding out what local groups are doing through Facebook – you don’t have to get involved, like me you can just sit and watch what’s going on. Over the weeks we’ll look at other things like sharing photographs with family and friends, saving money by comparing prices on all sorts of things. All welcome – for further details call Steve on 01422 847827. Tea and biscuits provided!

New Computer Training at Hebden Royd Methodist Church

With the continued expansion of Stoodley Training Mentors, we are proud to announce the new computer sessions at Hebden Royd Methodist Church on Mondays from 10:00 to 12:00 then 13:00 to 15:00 by arrangement. Please call for details – or just drop in for a chat!

Linux as an Alternative to Microsoft Windows

An article describing Linux as an alternative to Microsoft Windows

World Beyond Windows

Exploring Linux, Chrome OS, and beyond.

linux logo cupEduardo Quagliato via Flickr/Creative Commons

The best Linux distributions for beginners

Linux has many hundreds of distros, but the best ones for beginners have more hand-holding and some Windows-like familiarity.

Dabbling for the first time in Linux starts with choosing a Linux distribution. A typical “Linux” system is built up of software from many different open-source projects, including the Linux kernel. Linux distributions—or “distros”—are the projects that package all this software into an easily installable, usable operating system. 

Trying a Linux distribution is extremely easy. You just need to copy it to a USB drive and reboot your computer. You don’t need to install anything or tamper with your current system at all. (If you have a Windows 8 computer, you may need to disable Secure Boot before you can boot a Linux system.)

Ubuntu is a great place to start

Ubuntu is probably the most widely recommended Linux distribution for new users, and for good reason. This Linux distribution provides an easy, simple installer and a fairly user-friendly desktop in Unity. Unity differs a little from a traditional Windows desktop, but it shouldn’t be too hard to wrap your head around.

Further reading: The Ubuntu guide for displaced Windows users

This Linux distribution isn’t as ideological about free software as some distros are. With just a single click during the install process, you can have Ubuntu automatically install the Flash plug-in and various codecs. After the installation, there’s a single “Additional Drivers” tool that tells you exactly which closed-source hardware drivers are necessary for getting your hardware work properly and lets you install them with a click or two. This additional software is a hassle to get on some other Linux distributions, and installing it isn’t always officially supported.


Ubuntu Linux with the Unity desktop.

Go with the “long term service”—or LTS—release and you’ll have an Ubuntu system that’s supported with security updates for five solid years. These LTS releases also receive hardware support upgrades and some other significant software updates, allowing you to install Linux once and use your system for years. You don’t have to upgrade to a new version every single year to stay current, as you would if you were using a faster-moving Linux distro like Fedora.

Ubuntu’s popularity means there is a huge amount of software available for it in its software repositories and even in PPAs, if you end up needing something more bleeding-edge. There’s also a huge amount of documentation available online, so if you run into a problem, you can probably perform a web search and find someone else who’s already had and solved the same issue.

Linux Mint is very popular, too

There’s no denying Linux Mint’s popularity. Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu, so you get the same Ubuntu base system, but it’s also its own project. Ubuntu seems more popular in the wild, but Linux Mint often feels more popular among vocal Linux desktop users online.

linux mint cinnamon

Linux Mint with the Cinnamon desktop.

Linux Mint is focused on the traditional desktop. Both its Cinnamon and MATE desktops are more traditional interfaces that will probably be a bit more familiar to users leaving Windows than Ubuntu would. Linux Mint is also relentlessly focused on improving the desktop of today, while the Ubuntu project is working on a smartphone operating system, creating new software package formats, and entirely rewriting the Unity desktop for phone-PC convergence.

Give Linux Mint a try if you find Linux appealing but you’re not a fan of Ubuntu’s Unity desktop. Luckily, it’s easy to try both Ubuntu and Linux Mint without installing anything on your computer.

Want to stay up to date on Linux, BSD, Chrome OS, and the rest of the World Beyond Windows? Bookmark the World Beyond Windows column page or follow our RSS feed.

Lubuntu can give older computers new life

If you have a significantly older computer with less RAM and a slower CPU, you may want to skip the main Ubuntu desktop and use something more lightweight. Lubuntu is an Ubuntu base system with the Lxde desktop, which is much more lightweight. Lubuntu inherits all of Ubuntu’s perks—it just has a different desktop environment.

The Lubuntu project says Lubuntu should run fairly well with 512MB of RAM, though you’ll want 1GB for more demanding, modern websites. Ubuntu with the Unity desktop would likely struggle with such a low amount of available memory.


Lubuntu with the Lxde desktop.

Lubuntu isn’t the only version of Ubuntu with a different desktop you can try. Ubuntu offers a number of other “flavors,” too.

But what about Fedora, Debian, Arch, and others?

There are many other Linux distros out there—hundreds, actually. Here are a few you may have already heard of. These are all great Linux distros, but they aren’t the best place for most new users to start for one reason or another.

Fedora is popular, and it’s a great project. Unlike many other Linux distributions, Fedora works with a lot of “upstream” projects and doesn’t excessively customize them. The Fedora project is a platform for all the latest technologies going on in Linux-land and helps push the entire Linux ecosystem forward.

However, common software like multimedia codecs and closed-source hardware drivers aren’t supported on Fedora, which has a laser-like focus on free software. You’ll have to get this unapproved software from a third-party, which can be very daunting for a new user. Fedora is also very fast-moving, with every release of Fedora supported for only 13 months. You’ll have to upgrade to new versions of this Linux distro much more often to continue getting security updates.



Debian is solid and stable—it actually forms the basis for much of the software that ends up in Ubuntu. It’s been said that Ubuntu’s biggest accomplishment was taking the Debian system and building on it to make a more user-friendly system. Debian de-emphasizes proprietary software and doesn’t provide an easy tool to install the closed-source hardware drivers you may want or need. Debian is an excellent project, but Ubuntu is faster-moving and more focused on providing a polished desktop experience.

Arch Linux is also popular among more experienced users. It’s much more hands-on than hand-holding. That’s just what a certain type of user wants, but it’s probably not where you want to start with Linux unless you’re willing to dive into the deep end.

There’s no making everyone happy. Some readers will be upset that their distro of choice wasn’t recommended here. Every Linux distro has its fans and dedicated users. That freedom of choice is the beauty of Linux! 

Silver Line, a phone line for the elderly, has received 300,000 calls in first year

woman-looking-out-window1In its first year, a free 24-hour UK help line for the elderly has been inundated with calls about loneliness.

Founded by Esther Rantzen and aided by the Big Lottery Fund, the Silver Line took nearly 300,000 calls, and most were about feeling lonely or isolated. More than half of callers told the help line they had nobody else to talk to.Some also called to report abuse or neglect in their homes or in residential care.

One of the first calls received was from a woman in a care home too afraid to give her name. But she did give the name of the care home, where the residents had been left without food and the heating turned off. The police were informed, and the residents are now safe.

Silver Line is now teaming up with the Care Quality Commission – the body that checks standards of care – to protect and support the most vulnerable.

ChildLine for Older People

As well as chatting to Silver Line on 0800 4 70 80 90, people can now call the CQC directly on 03000 61 61 61.

The chief inspector of adult social care at the CQC, Andrea Sutcliffe, said: “We believe that working together, we will be able to improve the standards of care for older people who may be falling short of the quality they need and deserve. It is also an opportunity to recognise examples of excellence and to highlight best practice to share with others.”

The Silver Line uses trained staff to:

Offer information, friendship and advice
Link callers to local groups and services
Offer regular befriending calls
Protect and support those who are suffering abuse and neglect
Callers can receive a regular weekly friendship call or email or join a Silver Circle and take part in a regular group call on subjects that may interest them.

A friendly voice

Dorothy lives alone since her husband died. Dorothy Mills, 85, from Lancashire, became a widow after 58 years of a very happy marriage. With no children and her only surviving brother living abroad, Dorothy has no family around her.

She says it’s the loneliness that is hardest to bear. “You can’t see it or smell it. But you feel it. Loneliness is like a deadness. “It’s a feeling of being abandoned,” she says.

“The hardest thing is eating alone and the flat, dead nights… there is nothing worse than trying to eat a meal on your own in my opinion. “It seems to bring it home to you.”

Dorothy uses Silver Line to chat. “It’s lovely. I have a weekly call, and I so look forward to it. We can chat about anything. We just talk as friends do. It’s a lovely, friendly feeling. I’m back to life!”

Esther Rantzen said: “We knew loneliness existed in this country, but the extent of this epidemic of loneliness and isolation suffered by people over 65 has shocked and alarmed us.

“Many of our callers ring us on a regular basis because they tell us we are the reason they can get through the day.”

Silver Line is an amazing tool for lonely old people, in some cases it is a life line. If you are old and fancy a chat or if you wish to volunteer to Silver Line please click here.

Staying Well and Ageing Better Project in Calderdale

About the Staying Well and Ageing Better Project in Calderdale

Staying Well is a one year pilot project in 4 areas of Calderdale; North Halifax, Elland, West Central Halifax and Hebden Bridge.

With £1 million funding from the Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group the aims of the project are to:

  • reduce loneliness and social isolation
  • improve health and wellbeing
  • reduce demand on GP practices and hospitals

The Staying Well project is about social prescribing and making tailored connections between lonely or  isolated older people in the community with local groups, activities and services.

What is Social Prescribing in North Halifax?

There is a growing understanding that people who lead happy and active social lives enjoy better health than those who do not. Make sense really doesn’t it?

Imagine if instead of a course of tablets your GP prescribed a Mindfulness course running at the local church, or an art class at the fire station…

In North Halifax there are loads of local groups offering all kinds of social activities and things to get involved in. And there are organisations that can help you get involved, even if you’re nervous about taking that first step out of the door.

The Staying Well project understands that doctors can’t be expected to know everything on offer locally, and even if they did they wouldn’t have time to talk to patients in depth but they could prescribe a chat with someone from the North Halifax Hub.

Staying Well Community Hubs are well equipped to know what’s available in the community because they’re working with Neighbourhood Teams, Neighbourhood Schemes, libraries, community groups, voluntary organisations and other local services, residents and businesses.

Sometimes the solutions are simple and already exist locally.

Sometimes it will take more than one conversation, and the Hub might need to find some extra support like befriending or personal care to help someone get to an activity.

Sometimes what a person wants to do won’t exist yet and the Hub will need to work with individuals to develop new things.

Everyone can be a social prescriber – Tell your uncle about the new men’s group at the rugby club! Tell your neighbour about lunch clubs, history groups, community allotments, tenants and residents groups, walking football, tai chi, community choirs…

If you are feeling a bit fed up and want something to do, contact us on 01422 255402 or email