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Staying in contact with friends and family

You may be struggling to stay in touch with people because they live too far away, because it’s getting harder to visit them or because of sight or hearing problems. There are a range of solutions that can help including:

  • easy-to-use phones and computers – and support to learn how to use them
  • accessible transport
  • people who can accompany you so you feel confident going out.


There is lots of equipment which can help you stay in touch. Everyday new technology is being developed, and things like smart phones and tablet computers are becoming cheaper and easier to use. The choice can be daunting so it’s a good idea to get some independent advice about what is available and where you can buy it from.

Phone the Independent Living Centre on 01392 380181 or email to discuss the options and find local suppliers.

An Independent Living Centre occupational therapist can talk to you about phones with large buttons or picture buttons, smart phones and tablets with big screen displays and louder sound, and magnifiers for computer screens.

Sight and hearing loss

If you are struggling to stay in touch because of vision or hearing problems there is specific equipment available, like amplified phones, and professionals who can help you to find the right solution.

Contact your nearest sensory resource centre.

Visual impairment

Hearing impairment

  • Sound Base Centre, Exeter  Phone 01392 424018 (voice/textphone)

Hearing and visual impairment


If you live in an isolated area, or struggle to use public transport, there are transport services which can take you out to visit friends and family and take you home afterwards. This could be a local community support group or a community transport service.

Community transport

Community transport includes things like community buses which provide regular timetabled transport, ring and ride minibuses which provide door-to-door transport and community cars where a volunteer can take you where you want to go. Visit to find a community transport scheme near you.

Bus pass

Once you reach state pension age you can have a bus pass which gives you free off-peak travel on local buses. Adults with disabilities may also be able to apply. Find out how to apply for your bus pass at

Your pass is valid for free travel from 9:30am to the end of service on weekdays, and all day at weekends and on public holidays.

Fare Car

Fare Car operates like a shared taxi service. Passengers can book and pay separately, but share a timetabled journey. There are ten Fare Car schemes operating in Devon and anyone can book them with 24 hours’ notice. For more information about the scheme and a timetable call 01392 382800 or email

Blue Badge

The Blue Badge scheme allows severely disabled people to park nearer their destination – the Badge holder can be the driver or the passenger. Find out more about Blue Badges and how you can apply at

If you have a Blue Badge and there is no off-street parking you may also be able to apply for a disabled parking bay near your home.

Learning computer skills

Computer skills courses

If you’ve never really used a computer before but want to learn, there are basic computer skills courses running all over Devon. You can attend a course to learn about using computers to communicate with friends and to search for information online. Visit and search for computing or phone 0345 155 1014.

E-Wednesdays at Exeter Library

Exeter Library has two sessions every Wednesday for anyone who wants to learn how to use computers and the internet.

The Beginner Computer Course is every Wednesday at 10am-12 noon for one-to-one help learning how to use a computer. It’s free to attend but you must book your place. Phone 0345 155 1001 to book.

The IT drop-in sessions are every Wednesday 2pm-4pm. They’re free to attend and no booking is needed. Simply come along to get help with using the internet for shopping, paying bills and keeping in touch safely and securely.

Barclays Digital Eagles

Barclays Digital Eagles service aims to help people get online and get the benefits of being able to stay in touch, learn, pay bills and shop using a computer. They can talk to you about using free websites like Facebook and Skype to share photos and messages or have video conversations with friends and family around the world. Ask in your local Barclays branch about booking a session to talk to a Digital Eagle.

Help to go out

If you want to go out but are not confident about going by yourself, a volunteer from a local friends group may be able to help you get out to meet friends and family.

If you need help with a range of things, like getting dressed and washing, as well as going out you may want to think about employing a personal assistant or using an agency to provide all the support you need. You can search online for local care agencies at the Care Quality Commission. We recommend that you contact a couple of agencies to find one that suits your needs and budget. An alternative to a care agency is a Personal Assistant where you can find one or advertise for one.

You may also want to read some information from Age UK about organising and paying for personal care at home

Social groups

If you have lost touch with friends and family, there are lots of organisations which can help you to make new friends and find people to talk to and socialise with.

Contact the Elderly

A national charity which organises small, monthly, Sunday afternoon tea parties for people aged 75 and over. The party includes being collected and taken home by a driver. There are currently tea parties in Exeter, Exmouth, Tiverton and Torquay. Phone 0800 716 543 to find out about joining or visit

The Silver Line

A free confidential helpline which offers friendship and advice. You can phone at any time to speak to someone, have a regular weekly catch-up call or take part in regular group calls. Phone 0800 4 70 80 90 at any time to find out more or visit

Meeting new People

There are many benefits for people with disabilities joining local community clubs and groups. From a social point of view, clubs are great way to meet people and make new friends. Clubs and activities for people with disabilities in Devon | Devon County Council

The Filo Project

Filo gives older people the chance to get out and spend a day socialising and having lunch with a small group of others. You’re collected in the morning and taken to a host’s home with up to three other people, where you can talk, listen to music and chat, and you’re driven home again at the end of the day. The Filo Project is currently in and around Exeter, Exmouth, Honiton, Tiverton, Cullompton, Okehampton, Crediton, South Molton and Bideford, and is growing across Devon. To find out more phone 0333 335 3434 or visit

Age UK social activities

Age UK run a range of activities and groups across Devon giving you the chance to do things you enjoy, take up new interests and meet new people. The groups include walking football and basketball, computer sessions and gentle exercise groups. To find out what is available in your area phone 0845 296 7810 or email

Royal Voluntary Service

Matches you with a volunteer who can help you to stay happy and independent by providing friendship, support to go out or attend appointments and help with small jobs like changing lightbulbs or doing some gardening. The service is flexible and aims to meet your individual needs. They also run social clubs and provide community transport. Phone 01209 705159 or visit

Memory cafes

If you’re struggling to maintain relationships because you are having trouble with your memory, a memory café can be a good way to help you connect with family and friends, meet people who have memory problems and get practical help. There are memory cafes all across Devon; you can view a list of them at Memory Cafes.

If you’re worried about your memory visit your GP. They will talk to you about the problems you’re having and may refer you to a Memory Clinic for an assessment. The clinic will be able to give you information, support and treatment and introduce you to your local memory café if needed. Find out more about Memory Clinics.

Connecting people to their community and promoting social action.

Devon Connect

Find equipment solutions to stay active, safe and independent.

Independent Living Centre