Public Engagement
Republic’s Festive Fete

person drawing on tablet

As part of our Tea & Tech programme of workshops teaching older people digital literacy skills, we delivered two workshops to Tower Hamlets residents at Republic’s Winter Fete.

Participants at a workshop
The Import Building entrance, Canary Wharf

Republic is a co-working campus in Canary Wharf that has recently set up the festive fete to improve digital confidence for local older people. Using this as an opportunity introduce older people to Republic, we invited residents from Age UK East London's Russia Lane, in addition to other Tower Hamlets residents who have engaged with our workshops in the past. Our Tea & Tech workshops were also accompanied by workshops from The People Speak, as well as festive treats and products provided by local businesses. The People Speak’s workshops focused on the use of audio equipment, and included a live talk show blending karaoke and conversations about technology, as well as utilising Republic’s podcast studio to record discussions stimulated by reminiscence.

Person drawing on tablet
Participant’s exploring the creative app, Canva

All of the digital skills taught during our workshops are explored through a creative process, much the same as our workshops that don’t include technology. During our sessions at the festive fete we focused on the social media craze of memes, with the aim for each participant to make their own meme and then share it with a friend or loved one. We also gave participants the chance to ask general questions they might have about technology, while also showing them useful websites which they could find services or activities local to them in Tower Hamlets or slightly further a field.

Drawings in an online gallery
A participant sharing their meme on Facebook

For the main activity we began with a light investigation into existing memes using the facilitator’s laptop, before familiarising the participants with the laptops they were going to be using. This included supporting them with process of turning on the device, logging in and navigating to the web browser that would be the vehicle for the apps used in the workshop. The first app we engaged with was Google Canvas, a free drawing software that participants could use to create the image component of their meme. This drawing exercise gave participants the chance to use laptops in touch-screen mode, either interacting with it using their fingers or using the stylus pens also provided. Upon creating their images we discussed what text might be funny or complimentary to the visual, in order for it to have the an impact when shared. While we finished the drawing part of the session by showing everyone how to save and download their image onto the device.

Digital landscape
Participants from Russia Lane and Doris from True Ambassadors

The next part of the session proceeded with Canva, a relatively new piece of software making it easy for users to create content that is optimised for online use. We used Canva as a way for participants to add text to their images before using Canva’s ‘share’ feature to put it out into the world. It was impressive to see the participants grasp the laptops both as a way of supporting hobbies such as drawing but also as a communication method to counter isolation. For some participants we were able to help them set up email addresses, so that they could continue to share content in the future.


This project has been made possible by the East End Community Fund.

person drawing on a tablet