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

‘All day is empty. What am I going to do with it?

Creating a “loneliness map” could help target those who are at risk of loneliness.

The suggestion comes in a report from the Campaign to End Loneliness, which says such maps could show where older people are more likely to be at risk.

Studies have suggested loneliness can lead to health problems such as depression and high blood pressure.

After her husband died, Margaret Perry, a widow from Bristol, said she did not know what to do with herself.

What Is Open-Source Software and Why You Should Care?

Geeks often describe programs as being “open source” or “free software.” If you’re wondering exactly what these terms mean and why they matter, read on. (No, “free software” doesn’t just mean that you can download it for free.)

Whether a program is open-source or not doesn’t just matter to developers, it ultimately matters for users, too. Open-source software licenses give users freedoms they would not otherwise have.

Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr

The Definition of Open Source

If a program is open-source, its source code is freely available to its users. Its users – and anyone else – have the ability to take this source code, modify it, and distribute their own versions of the program. The users also have the ability to distribute as many copies of the original program as they want. Anyone can use the program for any purpose; there are no licensing fees or other restrictions on the software. The OSI has a more detailed definition of “open source” on its website.

For example, Ubuntu Linux is an open-source operating system. You can download Ubuntu, create as many copies as you want, and give them to your friends. You can install Ubuntu on an unlimited amount of your computers. You can create remixes of the Ubuntu installation disc and distribute them. If you were particularly motivated, you could download the source code for a program in Ubuntu and modify it, creating your own customized version of that program – or of Ubuntu itself. Open-source licenses all allow you to do this, while closed-source licenses place restrictions on you.

The opposite of open-source software is closed-source software, which has a license that restricts users and keeps the source code from them.

Firefox, Chrome, OpenOffice, Linux, and Android are some popular examples of open-source software, while Microsoft Windows is probably the most popular piece of closed-source software out there.

Open Source vs. Free Software


Richard Stallman

Open source applications are generally freely available – although there’s nothing stopping the developer from charging for copies of the software if they allow redistribution of the application and its source code afterwards.

However, that’s not what “free software” refers to. The “free” in free software means “free as in freedom,” not “free as in beer.” The free software camp, led by Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation, focuses on the ethics and morals of using software that can be controlled and modified by the user. In other words, the free software camp focuses on user freedoms.

The open-source software movement was created to focus on more pragmatic reasons for choosing this type of software. Open-source advocates wanted to focus on the practical benefits of using open-source software that would appeal more to businesses, rather than ethics and morals.

Ultimately, both open-source and free software advocates are developing the same type of software, but they disagree on the messaging.

Types of Licenses

There are many different licenses used by open-source projects, depending on which the developers prefer for their program.

The GPL, or GNU General Public License, is widely used by many open-source projects, such as Linux. In addition to all the above definitions of open-source, the terms of the GPL specify that, if anyone modifies an open-source program and distributes a derivative work, they must also distribute the source code for their derivative work. In other words, no one can take open-source code and create a closed-source program from it – they must release their changes back to the community. Microsoft referred to the GPL as being “viral” for this reason, as it forces programs that incorporate GPL code to release their own source code. Of course, a program’s developers can opt not to use GPL code if this is a problem.

Some other licenses, such as the BSD license, place less restrictions on developers. If a program is licensed under the BSD license, anyone can incorporate the program’s source code into another program. They don’t have to release their changes back to the community. Some people see this is being even more “free” than the GPL license, as it gives developers the freedom to incorporate the code into their own closed-source programs, while some people see it as being less “free” because it takes rights away from the end users of the derived program.

Benefits for Users

This isn’t all dry, unimportant stuff that only matters to developers. The most obvious benefit of open-source software is that it can be had for free. The example of Ubuntu Linux above makes that clear – unlike Windows, you can install or distribute as many copies of Ubuntu as you want, with no restrictions. This can be particularly useful servers – if you’re setting up a server, you can just install Linux on it. if you’re setting up a virtualized cluster of servers, you can easily duplicate a single Ubuntu server. You don’t have to worry about licensing and how many instances of Linux you’re allowed to run.

An open-source program is also more flexible. For example, Windows 8’s new interface disappointed many long-time desktop Windows users. Because Windows is closed-source, no Windows user can take the Windows 7 interface, modify it, and make it work properly on Windows 8. (Some Windows users are trying, but this is a painstaking process of reverse engineering and modifying binary files.)

When a Linux desktop like Ubuntu introduces a new desktop interface that some users aren’t fans of, users have more options. For example, when GNOME 3 was released, many Linux desktop users were equally turned off. Some took the code to the old version, GNOME 2, and modified it to make it run on the latest Linux distributions – this is MATE. Some took the code to GNOME 3 and modified it to make it work in a way they preferred – this is Cinnamon. Some users just switched to existing alternative desktops. If Windows was open-source, Windows 8 users would have more choice and flexibility. Just take a look at CyanogenMod, a popular, community-driven distribution of Android that adds features and support for new devices.

Open-source software also allows developers to “stand on the shoulders of giants” and create their own software. Witness Android and Chrome OS, which are operating systems built on Linux and other open-source software. The core of Apple’s OS X – and therefor iOS – was built on open-source code, too. Valve is furiously working on porting their Steam gaming platform to Linux, as this would allow them to create their own hardware and control their own destiny in a way that isn’t possible on Microsoft’s Windows.

This isn’t an exhaustive description – entire books have been written on this subject – but you should now have a better idea of what open-source software actually is and why it’s useful to you.

Full article at:

Elderly using Social Media to Reduce Loneliness

The loneliness epidemic: We’re more connected than ever – but are we feeling more alone?

Modern life is making us lonelier, and recent research indicates that this may be the next biggest public health issue on par with obesity and substance abuse.  A recent review of studies indicates that loneliness increases mortality risk by 26%.

woman-looking-out-window1Loneliness is an increasing problem in modern life. The Church Urban Fund and the Church of England found a rise of 10 per cent in the last three years in clergy members who felt that social isolation was a major problem in their local area. Another survey by the Mental Health Foundation found that in the UK one in ten of us feels lonely often and 48 per cent of people think we are getting lonelier in general. Britain has even been voted the loneliness capital of Europe.

So why are we getting lonelier? Changes in modern society are considered to be the cause. We live in nuclear family units, often living large distances away from our extended family and friends, and our growing reliance on social technology rather than face to face interaction is thought to be making us feel more isolated. It means we feel less connected to others and our relationships are becoming more superficial and less rewarding.

We are social animals and need to feel that we “belong” to others and feel connected to one another. Social pain is as real a sensation for us as physical pain; researchers have shown that loneliness and rejection activates the same parts of the brain as physical pain.

14 ways social isolationLoneliness affects all of us at some point in our lives. Relocating to a new area, losing a loved one, and starting a course at university are all key times when people feel lonely. Research suggests that this experience of loneliness is useful to us as it motivates us to reconnect with others and to seek out new friendships to reduce the “social pain” that we feel. But for some, when reconnection is not easy or not possible, if a person is socially isolated, people can remain in this uncomfortable loneliness state for a number of years. Reports vary but typical numbers of people experiencing loneliness in this prolonged way range from three to 30 per cent.

For those that experience loneliness for a long time, research has shown that this impacts on their health in a greater way than smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being obese. Loneliness has also been linked to poor mental health. In a survey by Mental Health Foundation, more than a third of people surveyed had felt depressed as a result of feeling lonely.

Using Skype to Connect With Grandchildren of All Ages

Original article at:

SkypeJust as your ways of relating to your grandchildren grow with them, so will the ways you use Skype. Almost anything that you do with your grandchildren in person can be adapted for video chat using Skype. You can even share a special occasion with your grandchildren when you’re not able to be there in person.

If you are new to video calling, read about getting set up with Skype, or watch an instructional video


How Neighbours’ Equipment an Interfere with your WiFi

The full article can be found at:

How You and Your Neighbors Are Making Each Other’s Wi-Fi Worse (and What You Can Do About It)

Wi-Fi networks interfere with each other. Older Wi-Fi standards are even worse about this, so your old Wi-Fi hardware isn’t just hurting your network — it’s interfering with your neighbors, too.

All that interference is bad for everyone’s network, even yours. Unless you live out in the country with no one else around, this is something you need to think about.

Wi-Fi Channel Interference


How to Find The Best Wi-Fi Channel For Your Router on Any Operating System
Choosing the best Wi-Fi channel on your router helps to reduce interference and improve your WI-Fi signal. These tools will… [Read Article]

All routers must operate their Wi-Fi network on one of several “channels” — different ranges of frequencies the wireless network can operate on. If you have multiple Wi-Fi networks near each other — and you probably do unless you don’t live near anyone else — they should ideally be on different channels to reduce interference.

Modern routers often try to automatically choose the best Wi-Fi channel for the least interference, but you can get some benefit from analyzing the airwaves around you and choosing the least congested Wi-Fi channel. If you and your neighbors are using the same Wi-Fi channel — especially if their wireless router is very close to yours — your Wi-Fi networks are making each other’s worse. Follow our guide to choosing the best Wi-Fi channel for instructions.

2.4 GHz vs. 5 GHz


Upgrade Your Wireless Router to Get Faster Speeds and More Reliable Wi-Fi
If you haven’t upgraded to a new wireless router in a few years, you might want to seriously consider it…. [Read Article]

Older 802.11b/g/n networks use the 2.4 GHz range. These networks in common use are not ideal for Wi-Fi channel interference. While there are 14 different available wireless channels designated for use in this range, they actually overlap quite a bit. Channels 1, 6, and 11 are most frequently used so Wi-Fi networks on adjacent channels don’t interfere with each other. If you have more than three wireless networks in an area — and you probably do — they’re just interfering with each other. You can’t really do anything about that unless you want to coat the walls of your house or apartment with tinfoil to ensure your neighbors’ Wi-Fi signals don’t interfere with yours.

Modern Wi-Fi standards operate on 5 GHz instead of 2.4 GHz. 802.11ac operates on only 5 GHz. 802.11n routers can operate on either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz, but not both — and they’ll typically be set up to operate on 2.4 GHz. (Note: Single-radio 802.11n routers can only operate on the 5 GHz or 2.4 GHz range. However, there are multiple-radio 802.11n and 802.11ac routers that can create both 2.4 GHz interfaces for your older devices and 5 GHz ones for your newer devices.)

Where 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi offers only three non-overlapping channels, 5 GHz Wi-Fi offers 23 non-overlapping channels. This doesn’t mean interference is eliminated — if you’re sharing one of those channels with another 5 GHz WI-Fi network nearby, there will be interference — but it’s a much less congested range with more room for various Wi-Fi networks to spread out and not interfere with each other. If you and a bunch of your neighbors are all using 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi, you’re all getting a lot less interference if you upgrade to 5 GHz Wi-Fi networks.

Devices Interfering on 2.4 GHz


How To Get a Better Wireless Signal and Reduce Wireless Network Interference
Like all sufficiently advanced technologies, Wi-Fi can feel like magic. But Wi-Fi isn’t magic – it’s radio waves. A variety… [Read Article]

A variety of reasonably common devices also interfere on the 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi spectrum. These are an obstacle to having a fast, reliable Wi-Fi network. Even if you don’t have any of these devices, your neighbors might have them — although the interference will be worst when they’re closest.

Many cordless phones operate on the 2.4 GHz range, as do a variety of wireless “baby monitors.” Microwave ovens can also add interference here. Not all phones or baby monitors will interfere — only the 2.4 GHz ones. But, while you might be able to avoid these devices in your own apartment or house, your neighbors might have other ideas. There’s less interference on the 5 GHz range, which is another good reason to upgrade.

Cordless Phone On A Table With Chair

802.11b Devices Slow Down Newer Networks

Just having a device running an older wireless standard nearby won’t slow down your network, despite rumors otherwise. If your neighbor is using an ancient 802.11b device on their network, your network won’t see any slow-downs because of that — assuming they’re on a different wireless channel

Using an old 802.11b device on a modern 802.11g or 802.11n network will slow down the network as modern devices have to resort to dirty hacks to avoid breaking the old 802.11b device. If you have an 802.11b device on the same network, that’ll slow things down for everyone on that network. If there are multiple networks on the same wireless channel, the 802.11b device can also slow down networks on the same channel.

On the other hand, using an 802.11g device on a faster 802.11n network won’t slow things down in the same way. More modern wireless network standards handle this in a more sane way, so you only really need to worry about replacing those ancient 802.11b devices. And yes, those devices are quite ancient in consumer technology terms — 802.11b came out back in 1999, and it was replaced by 802.11g back in 2003.

Your neighbors can use 802.11b devices all they like without bothering you — assuming your Wi-Fi network isn’t sharing a channel with theirs. This is yet another reason to switch to 5 GHz Wi-Fi, where those 802.11b devices can’t go.

No, you probably won’t upgrade just to help your neighbors. But that interference isn’t just bad for your neighbors — it’s two-sided, and it means your neighbors’ Wi-Fi is also interfering with yours. Upgrading helps everyone.

Phishing alert – Driving Licence Details

Beware of this new ‘Phishing’ scam and be ready for those based around the new pension reforms: –

DVLA warns the public of an email scam that asks drivers to verify their driving licence and vehicle tax details via an online link.

In some cases the email quotes a 16 digit reference number, telling drivers they’re due a refund for some of the payment made when they taxed their vehicle. They’re then asked to verify their bank details via an online link.

The email also claimes to have been sent from DVLA, appears to be an attempt to trick drivers into providing bank details. DVLA have not sent out an email asking customers to provide this information. DVLA does not ask customers to provide bank details via email.

We’re aware that some members of the public have received these emails and we strongly advise anyone who receives one of these or any similar email, to ignore it and not to follow the instructions given.

The government, led by Cabinet Office’s Government Digital Service (GDS), will continue to investigate reports of organisations which may be actively misleading users about their services or acting illegally, taking swift action when necessary. By using the online driving licence or vehicle tax transactions on GOV.UK you can be sure that you are dealing directly with DVLA.

You can find the online driving licence and vehicle tax services in the driving licence and vehicle taxsections of GOV.UK.

Banks Sign up to Closure Guidelines

As we know, the rate of bank closures has increased and is justified by the move to online and other digital banking. The Government has requested that banks should minimise the effect of branch closures.

Full article at

and government view at

Banks sign up to closure guidelines

An agreement to help prevent consumers being left out in the cold when their local bank shuts down has been signed up to by major high street banks, consumer groups and the Government.
Banks have signed up to a protocol designed to minimise the effect of branch closures Banks have signed up to a protocol designed to minimise the effect of branch closures

The British Bankers’ Association (BBA) has agreed guidelines after Business Secretary Vince Cable wrote to banks in December, calling for clear procedures for the steps they would take when closing a branch to ensure customers in rural and deprived areas do not lose out.

The protocol, which will be reviewed by an independent reviewer after one year, commits the banks to work with local communities to establish the impact of a branch closure before it takes place, find suitable alternative provision and put satisfactory alternative banking services in place before a branch is closed.

Options for possible satisfactory alternatives would include free to use cash machines, alternative branches, and Post Office branches and mobile banking arrangements.

A majority of the banks’ customers can already access banking services via the Post Office, which has more than 11,500 branches.

This role is set to increase with the BBA, banks and the Post Office negotiating to standardise the services available to the banks’ customers, including small business customers, at Post Office branches.

Anthony Browne, chief executive of BBA, said: “The way we bank is changing, with millions of us now embracing a range of digital services to spend, move and manage our money.

“Because of this change in customer behaviour banks are investing more heavily in innovative technology to make banking quicker and more convenient. This means that the number of branches is falling.”

He said the agreement ” will make sure customers still have banking services close at hand if a branch closes. Communities will be given fair notice of any closure and clarity about the alternative places and ways to bank”.

Nick Kennett, director of Post Office Financial Services said: “The Post Office is unique in providing people with easy access to banking services throughout the UK.

“The banks can establish commercial arrangements with us, so that we can meet the needs of both their personal and businesses customers.”

New research from consumer group Which? has found that f our in 10 (41%) people still use the local branch of their high street bank at least once a month.

The survey of more than 2,000 people found that 37% would find it an inconvenience if their local high-street bank branch closed and three in ten (30%) would consider switching banks, showing the importance of introducing alternatives for customers.

The most popular alternatives for consumers, if their high-street bank closed, were found to be ATMs providing other services, the bank operating in another location such as a supermarket, banking provided in the Post Office, or shared branches.

Banking in a nearby location such as a supermarket was the most popular option among older age groups. Which? found that 47% of 55 to 64-year-olds and 46% of people aged 65 and over would like to see this, compared to 39% for all age groups.

In rural areas, banks providing services at the Post Office or in another location were the most popular alternatives, favoured by 41% of people.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Today’s agreement is the first step towards ensuring banks will not leave customers out in the cold when branches close. It will provide some reassurance to vulnerable people who often rely on face-to-face banking and aren’t able to bank online or travel to other branches.

“We expect the banks to stick to their word and ensure all consumers can access vital banking services, no matter where they live. Next year’s independent review of this agreement will be an important test of the banks’ commitment to regaining the trust of consumers.”

Mr Cable said: “People are increasingly banking online, but it’s not necessarily an option for everyone and we must ensure people are not left behind. This industry agreement recognises those concerns, commits to finding alternatives and is a major step forward.”