accessibility & help

How two pensioners learned to use Facebook with the help of the British Red Cross

15 March 2016

When a couple in their eighties wanted to get to grips with social media, help was at hand from the British Red Cross.

Living in their spotless cottage in Radstock, Tom and Jean Fussell have a good life and beautiful views out over the valley but the steep hill leading up to their house means friends can’t visit as often as they used to. The couple have three children and seven grandchildren – some living locally but others in far-flung parts of the world. They wanted to use their tablet to feel more connected to their nearest and dearest.

After both of them had to go into hospital at the end of last year (2015) Jean, 80, and Tom, 82, were offered six weeks of support at home from the British Red Cross to help them get back on track. The support at home project in rural parts of Bath and North East Somerset is funded by Land Rover and new volunteers are needed. Red Cross workers and volunteers ask people to identify the main goals they’d like to achieve during their period of support. Red Cross worker Jo Stone found out Tom and Jean’s number one goal was to learn how to use Facebook.

Jo says: “Tom and Jean were very intent on learning how to use their tablet. I don’t really use technology that much myself so we were kind of learning together at the same time. I have a Facebook profile and go on there every now and again so I knew enough to be able to relay that information in simplified terms.”

Tom, who has been married to Jean for 58 years, says: “Jo was brilliant. She had all the patience in the world. All we wanted to do was keep in touch with the children and grandchildren on Facebook. Jo was really fantastic and said she’d learned as much as we had. When we finished Jean could use it well.”

Since setting up their Facebook profile the couple have seen photographs of new babies, received birthday wishes and seen pictures of a fish tank they gave their son in situ and operational in his house in Edinburgh. Jean says: “It’s all new to us, we weren’t brought up in that era. When we went to school we had chalk and slate and a pen you had to dip in ink. At Christmas we saw photos of our grandson in Japan and it tickled us pink.”

Tom did his national service during the Suez Crisis and then worked all his life as a carpenter. He says: “We have the good life I think. I know the world will change, like it’s always changed. We had it hard when we were kids through the war but I still think we had the best parts of life in lots of ways.” Jean worked in manufacturing - making corsets for a local company and then shoes for Clarks and doing the fine embroidery work on gloves for Dents. She says: “I used to like messing around in the garden but now I can’t do that anymore. I love my home. My home and my grandchildren are my priorities. I want to see what’s going on and it all comes up on Facebook.”

Volunteers are given full training and asked to commit a few hours a week to support people in their local area. For more information please call Nia Hall on 0117 301 2603 for a friendly chat, or email

To find out more about the Red Cross please visit


Notes to editors

For more information or interviews call Rebecca Gilbert on 0117 3012624 or email Please find attached photographs of Tom and Jean with Red Cross worker Jo. Please credit Tim Mossford/UNP.



The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.

Follow us on Twitter: @RedCrossSouth

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