Information Now

12 March 2021


InformationNOW and wellbeing
Consultation on video relay service in emergencies
Covid 19 Resident Impact survey


Going digital
Internet and broadband
Digital equipment for use with the internet or Wi Fi
Social connections on the Internet


Galafield Community Centre and Hub
Marie Curie Hospice
Having your say on health services
Foodbanks and free emergency food
Events & Activities updates


InformationNOW and wellbeing

Along with Active Newcastle, we are keen to let you know about all the wellbeing options available to you at the moment. Active Newcastle has been reminding us to stretch at our desks this week.  Stretch at your desk by BUPA Health UK on You Tube.

Regular stretching helps to:

  •  Relieve muscle tightness
  •   Improve mobility & flexibility
  •   Decrease chances of injury
  •   Correct posture
  •   Improve blood flow
  •   Relieve stress

There are also:
mindfulness and meditation options online each week
music and singing online each week
fitness and movement options online

Now that the weather is improving, you might like to start thinking about seeds you can plant and flowers for your gardens and windowsills.

Consultation on video relay service for emergencies

Ofcom is consulting on introducing emergency video relay. This would allow British Sign Language users to contact the police, ambulance and fire services in BSL. Consultation ends 30 March 2021.Email comments and you can submit a BSL video. You can call them on text relay on 020 7783 4079, or using video relay.

Read our article on deaf and hard of hearingBSL and subtitles

Covid 19 Resident Impact Survey

Residents across the region are being urged to complete a Covid 19 impact survey to help get region-wide insight into the impact of the pandemic.

The North East Councils recognise how difficult it has been for people to cope with the Coronavirus (COVID 19) pandemic. Please complete their survey to help them understand more about how your day-to-day life has been affected, including health and wellbeing, work, household finances, shopping, social and leisure activities. They are are keen to hear your views on vaccination, the economy and the easing of lockdown restrictions and social distancing.


Going digital

The internet has become an essential utility nowadays. It’s necessary for work, education, entertainment, and keeping in touch with family and friends

The last year has seen a major change in how we live our lives, with many of us far more reliant on using the internet to stay connected, take part, find information and shop for food and other products.  Some of us may have had online consultations with our GP or specialist or we may have been directed to digital resources on how to keep fit or manage on a budget.  In this guide we take you through:

  • internet, broadband and Wi Fi
  • devices
  • social connections
  • jargon and tips

Please also read:

Internet and broadband

The Internet is a global telecommunications network which links millions of computers. To connect to the Internet you need a modem, a telephone line and an account with an internet service provider (ISP).

Wireless internet or ‘Wi Fi’ is the most common way to connect to the Internet in your home and when out and about. There is a wireless box called a router which plugs into your telephone line. It transmits a signal to a receiver in your device/s (your computer, laptop, tablet, smart phone or Smart TV). When you want to connect, the wireless box and your device talk to each other and send information to and from your device.

Broadband is simply a permanent Internet connection that is faster than the one that you get with a standard modem and telephone line; the main options are:

  • standard/ADSL broadband uses British Telecom’s (BT’s) copper-wire telephone network. This is available directly through BT or via a third-party.
  • fibre optic broadband delivers internet over fibre optic cables. This allows for a faster connection than you’d get with copper wires. Most forms of fibre broadband available in the UK are fibre to the cabinet ( FTTC). This means the last mile between your local street cabinet and home uses standard copper telephone lines.
  • cable broadband bypasses the copper phone network entirely and delivers the internet over coaxial cables. The main cable provider in the UK is Virgin Media, which offers broadband and you will need to use their post code checker to see if it is an option to you.

Step 1: consider your broadband options:  The best known providers are: Sky, TalkTalk, PlusNet, Vodaphone, EE, GiffGaff, 3, ID, Tesco, BT and Virgin Media. There are many more on the market.  They will offer you a monthly package to enable you to access the internet.  Key considerations are: speed and cost.

Step 2: Speed is based on how quickly a page loads; how many pages you can have open to keep that upload speed; how many devices are connected to your broadband at any one time; how often you will be connecting to talk on products such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams and how much your family use Games consoles, such as PlayStation or X Box. You may be asked questions about this when you speak to a provider.  When you buy a broadband service, the provider must give you accurate information on how fast your broadband will be.

Step 3: Cost.  The options/bundles are varied and the cost can range from £17 for a basic package to £30 per month or more to use everything there is, such as: social media, online shopping, catching up on a favourite TV series and peer-to-peer file sharing, online gaming or streaming films and music.

To get the best deal you can use a comparison website by inputting your post code. Switching companies include: SimplifyDigital,  MoneyExpert comparison websiteUSwitchSwitchly or Some of these also have a telephone number so you can call for a comparison.  This is handy if you are a first time buyer.

Read the latest Ofcom research on provider quality and get the most out of your broadband

Public Wi Fi: Newcastle city centre has accessible public Wi Fi. This is great to browse, watch and chat.   It is best not to access your bank account or sensitive information and keep your passwords and device secure from a hacker or malware virus.

Digital equipment for use with the internet or Wi Fi

It can be daunting to choose your digital equipment because there is such a range of products and devices.  We cover these in our article Getting online and digital equipment

To choose your device, you need to think about what you and your family want to do online as well as what you can afford.  Just like broadband, most purchases are made on a contract which means you are making an agreement to pay an agreed amount per month or on subscription. Devices include:

  • computers or laptops: commonly used as office equipment where you need to be productive. Laptops fold and are portable
  • mobile phones: basic mobile phones fit your pocket; they are used for phoning and texting
  • SMART phones: commonest small computer devices with advanced features that enable you to browse the internet, send emails, play games; download Apps
  • tablets ie Apple or Android: small portable devices with similar functions to a computer; used to browse the Internet, read email,  watch videos; download Apps such as iPlayer.
  • e readers: portable devices used for reading books; adjustable type size
  • games console: an electronic or computer device that outputs a video signal or visual image to display a video game that one or more people can play through some type of game controller on the Internet.

Computers and laptops are currently the best products for deskwork, regular typing, using multiple sources of information and comparison. Their battery life is shorter, perhaps 4 to 8 hours.  They have the advantage of storing 500 gigabytes (GB) or more on a hard drive and they have USB ports and allow external storage.

Many people value the portability of their SMART phone.  It can be used as an office on the go if you know how to make use of public Wi Fi and hot spots. You can shop, bank, use Apps, such as BBC Sounds; Uber Eats; Spotify or What’s App and use a map to find your way around a City. It uses a touchscreen. However, if you need to type, print or manage or store multiple sources of information then you will need another device.

Tablets are helping to shape the way we browse the internet, communicate and watch TV and video. They use a touchscreen. Check whether your tablet is Wi Fi only or will take a SIM card which enables you to use it like a phone to message and text as well. You can install Microsoft Office on the latest android tablets which means that it is catching up with the laptop for portability and productivity.  A tablet can run for up to 10 hours on one power charge.  They have between 16 and 128 gigabytes of storage.

An electronic or E book reader is a small, portable computer designed for reading books stored in a digital format such as ASCII, PDF, HTML, RTF, or another similar format. It uses and E ink which is different to computers and tablets.  Most e book readers can store hundreds or even thousands of titles at a time and most now have Wi Fi Internet connections, so you can download more books whenever you wish.

SIM Card: a computer chip which holds information and allows you to connect with your network. This means you can make calls, send SMS messages and connect to mobile internet services like 3G, 4G and 5G. They’re also transferable between devices and you can choose to save messages, contacts and emails to them.

Mobile Data: is what allows your phone to get online when you’re away from Wi Fi. Mobile-enabled devices can send and receive information over a wireless cellular connection. As long as you have a cellular connection, you can use the Internet.  1 gigabyte (or 1000MB) is about the minimum data allowance to browse the web, use social networks and check email for up to around 40 minutes per day.  You will use more data than this to stream, watch video, listen to music, send images (when not on Wi Fi) and use GPS to travel.  Apps like Spotify use around 0.72 megabytes per minute, and you can expect around the same amount for Pandora and similar Apps.

Apps: an application, downloaded to a mobile device. Download these from reputable stores such as Apple or Google Play.

PAC code: A porting authorisation code is a code that mobile providers must issue on request which allows you to switch your mobile service and keep your existing number

iOS is a mobile operating system developed by Apple. iOS currently runs on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Android: is a mobile operating system based on Linux and designed as touch screen

Gigabyte:  a measurement of data storage on computer technologies

Social connections on the internet

Before the pandemic the most popular ways to keep in touch were social networking accounts with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Some of this has changed and people are now using What’s app, Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams to keep in touch by video communication.

WhatsApp is good for group chat and limited video calling.

Some people will be managing their profile on LinkedIn to find a job or look for a career change.  If you follow both of these hyperlinks above they take you to our information and the Help Centres for each product.

Staying indoors, whether working or shielding or keeping safe, has the potential to isolate us from our friends, family and community.  There are organisations, such as the Elders CouncilSearch and Get online Newcastle  that are trying to help people get online with their devices.

In principle, if you have email, then you can join a meeting/group in Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Skype by clicking the link and entering a passcode if there is one. The host of the meeting will have put in place security to make sure this is a safe space. You can join by landline using the teleconferencing number, but you may not be able to see the group without a webcam. Below we give one example:


Creating your own account

To sign up for your own free account, visit and enter your email address. You will receive an email from Zoom ( In this email, click Activate Account.

Signing in to your Zoom account on the web

You can sign in to your Zoom account on the web at any time, at Once you’re logged in, use the panel on the left side to navigate the Zoom web portal. You can update your profile, schedule a meeting, edit your settings, and more.

Joining another user’s meeting

There are many ways to join a meeting, but the easiest way is to click the join link that the meeting host provided. You can also click Join in your Zoom client and enter the meeting ID. You may also be prompted for a meeting passcode, so keep the meeting invite information available.

How to access a Zoom class on You Tube (with thanks to Search)

A note on Facebook

Facebook has recently installed technology that means that a video starts playing as soon as you scroll by it.  This will use your data if you are not on Wi Fi.

To turn this setting off

In Android, open the Facebook App and go to Settings. Change Videos Auto-play to Off. You can also set it to Wi Fi only, so they only auto-play when you’re connected to Wi Fi, but I prefer to control when videos start.

For iOS, go to Settings>Facebook and tap Settings. Under Video, tap Auto-play. You can choose Off or set it to Wi Fi only.

Updates on InformationNOW

Updated organisations
Galafield Centre Community Hub
Marie Curie Hospice

Updated articles
Foodbanks in Newcastle
Having your say about health services

Latest Events
Cafe culture debates and discussions on Zoom
Clinical Commissioning Group for health public, patient and carer engagement sessions
Cultural competency training
This is Us BAME health matters – mental health
This is Us BAME health matters – spiritual

Last updated: April 9, 2021

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