Only three lockdowns to Christmas …

Only three lockdowns to Christmas …

A friend jokingly told me recently “The year is flying by, only three lockdowns to Christmas”.

Well, that was late May and we have already had two more lockdowns. Christmas is still five months off, so that could well have been an understatement.

The East Melbourne Neighbour Network has only managed to hold one of our monthly Morning Coffee gatherings since March last year! That was last month and what a bumper group we had. We had around 50 people attend a neighbour’s home and, as you can imagine, every seat in the house was taken. The chatter was deafening as neighbours made the most of the opportunity to swap stories and laughter and just catch up after a long break.

As our group is mainly retired folk, we decided to ask two younger residents to fill us in on what COVID-19 meant for them. Sabina and David, two individual young business owners in their 30s, previously travelled and worked between Melbourne and separate cities in the USA. They each came home when the government suggested all Australians should return in March 2020. Since then, their business opportunities have been turned upside down and they have had to leave their USA lives on hold.

Sabina started a new personalised jewellery business here with little capital and it has exceeded all her expectations. David has used the lockdown time to develop and launch new technology services and is beginning to reap the rewards. They both flew to the USA recently to resume their international business lives. It was an eye opener for us to see local examples of how to make the most of such significant life changes, given most of us found just staying home difficult enough.

The network tried out a new “computer help group” recently with great success. So many older residents are left behind when it comes to iPhones, iPads, computers. This denies them access to a lot of useful information. If you do not know how to connect to wi-fi, login and use email, online ticket booking services, the MyGov website, online shopping services, Zoom, etc., you can be even more isolated in your home.

Debbie Bisinella runs the Computer Help group, which pairs an older resident with a buddy resident who is familiar with basic computer technology. Everyone went home with a series of handwritten notes on their individual issues after working through them with their buddy. The feedback has been very positive, from both the helpers and the learners. We have quite a list of willing learners.

We will continue to run these sessions once we are free to meet up again in the East Melbourne Library. If you live in East Melbourne and would like to help an older resident with basic Smartphone, tablet, or computer issues, please contact us, we would love to hear from you. It requires only one hour of your time and will make a big difference to the life of a fellow resident •

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