A new world for Galashiels silver surfers

Julie Pearson, housing care manager at Cornmill Court, with the building's longest resident, 93-year-old Mary McLaren, who has lived there for 14 years.
Julie Pearson, housing care manager at Cornmill Court, with the building's longest resident, 93-year-old Mary McLaren, who has lived there for 14 years.

A housing with care facility in Galashiels has opened up the information superhighway for its residents by providing free broadband.

And for those who don’t know their hi-fi from their wifi, bosses at the Trust Housing Association-owned Cornmill Court in the town’s St John Street have laid on free courses on the use of smartphones, tablets and computers.

Margaret Kerr, 94, Cournmill Court's newest resident, who moved in three months ago.

Margaret Kerr, 94, Cournmill Court's newest resident, who moved in three months ago.

They have also installed a top-of-the-range touchscreen kiosk in the lounge, bought by government funding, which allows residents to use search engines, Skype their families and update their social media profiles.

Housing care manager Julie Pearson, 53, told us: “Trust are rolling internet out to all of its developments, and we thought it would be good for family, friends and staff to help the tenants recognise what digital participation and technology is all about.

“We have Debbie McGill from the library next door coming in to give us all lessons on using tablets and smartphones every Monday from 2-4pm for the next few weeks.

“And the kiosk is unbreakable, and is very easy to use, with tabs taking them to whatever it is they want to do.

Staff and residents with the new internet station

Staff and residents with the new internet station

“It’s also very secure, as all the caches, cookies and memory is wiped every five minutes, so if anyone forgets to log off their session, it will do this for them.”

Residents will get a voucher with a code on, which will allow them and their families to use the wifi in their own flats free of charge for 12 months, after which a new free code will be issued.

Mary McLaren, 93, who has been at Cornmill Court for 14 years – the building’s longest sitting resident – cut the ribbon for the wifi, as well as a cake which was enjoyed by all at the launch.

She said: “I’m not sure if I will be able to use it, but it’s good that they are giving some lessons on it. It’s a great idea ...I’ve been told I can follow the horses on it , I like the horses.”

And the building’s newest resident, 94-year-old Margaret Kerr, gave the first demonstratiion of the kiosk.