End the digital divide – Famileo turns your family’s social messages into a printed newsletter for grandparents
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It means elderly relatives or others who have struggled to get on with smart phones, tablets and computers can now still get all their family news in the form of a traditional paper.
And the app, with over 1,2 million users already, is bringing generations closer together, with families signing up for it as a perfect Christmas gift.
GET THE APP: You can sign up for one issue and cancel at anytime – simply downloaded the app via the App Store and Google Play, or sign up on the Famileo web site, where you can find lots more information, at www.famileo.com.
The app was the brainchild of Tanguy de Gélis, who was inspired by his own grandma after he bought her an iPad one Christmas so she could join in the family WhatsApp group.
Tanguy said: “One day when I went to visit her, I noticed the iPad on her table gathering dust. She told me it wasn’t easy for her to use and that she missed the family postcards and letters she used to get. So that got me thinking about an app with a digital interface for young people and a newspaper for the elderly.”
It was launched in France in 2015 by Tanguy and his co-founder, Armel de Lesquen and launched in the UK this Summer.
How Famileo works
With a simple app and just one £5.99 monthly subscription, unlimited family members can add anecdotes, photos, memories and messages with just a few clicks.
Messages are automatically formatted and printed as a personalised newspaper, then mailed out monthly to grandparents, or any other recipient.
Each gazette can include up to 30 messages and can be delivered to any country in the world, at the same price.
Everyone in the family can chip in with the £5.99 monthly payment, thanks to the ‘family kitty’ function of the app.
Famileo, which has already received over 3,5k five-star reviews as a bestselling App, has become a household name in France since its launch 7 years ago and regularly tops lists of the most popular Christmas presents for grandparents.
It has proved hugely popular with users, particularly grandparents and grandchildren, as it works for both tech-savvy youngsters and elderly relatives that don’t use social media.
“We have received lots of thanks and messages for our service and that makes us very happy – and it drives our ambition to open in new countries” said Tanguy.
For grandparents, who receive a personalised newsletter full of family updates, it’s a way of feeling connected. Previous research of users in France show it significantly eases communication with older relatives, offering more meaningful interactions. *
It can also help combat loneliness and isolation which have become growing concerns in recent years.
Charity Age UK found that 42% of people aged over 75 did not use the internet. People who have not used technology in their working lives, are over the age of 80, or live alone, are more likely to be disconnected, says the charity.
Tanguy said: “It offers an easy way for grandchildren to write to their grandparents, which helps build connection and reduce feelings of loneliness. It’s an app that brings joy to grandparents.”
For many people that use Famileo it has become a lifeline.
Georgie Davies, aged 29, has a brother Fred, 27, studying fine art in Japan, so she signed up for Famileo for their grandma, Jean, 91, who is in a care home and living with a form of dementia. Famileo offered a way to keep them all connected and she has a folder to store old editions, so she can flick through them.
“Grandpa died about 15 years ago, so she was living alone. With Fred in Japan and the time difference, it’s difficult to call her. She doesn’t use the phone much. Famileo was a way to keep grandma updated, “ said Georgie.
“When we all get together for a birthday or Christmas, I take loads of photos to put in the next edition, so she has a hard copy of the event, because she won’t necessarily remember it because of her dementia.”
The App couldn’t be easier to use, even for her dad, who isn’t particularly tech savvy, she added.
She said: “Dad has the App on his phone and can very easily take photos and upload them and put a caption up. For me and Fred, it’s really easy, you get a nudge when it’s time to send off the latest edition, and you can quickly add more photos. It doesn’t have to be long, she gets one every couple of weeks, so a handful of pictures is three or four pages, and she can keep it next to her and look at it over and over again.
“We are in an age where none of us print photos anymore. For older people, that’s a shame, because if they don’t have Facebook or social media then they won’t necessarily know what their family is up to, and this is just a really easy way of showing them.”
She said it’s also been a surprising way of bringing the whole family closer together.
"My brother puts more photos in Famileo than he sends to our family on What’s App, he puts loads on the newsletter for grandma, it’s hilarious. I think, ‘oh, I didn’t know you were doing that!’ It’s just a nice way of all keeping in touch together and also with her,” she said.
Karen Ferguson, 65, lives in France and signed up to Famileo for her 90-year-old mum Nancy, in Edinburgh.
A trained solicitor, Karen now teaches English in her local primary school and has four children who have lived and worked all over the world. Her mother, who has 15 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren, lives alone after her husband died a few years ago.
The Famileo App has been a godsend for their nomadic family, says Karen, who heard of the app through her partner’s daughters. She often puts old photos of her father into Famileo for her mum and said it is a great way for her to stay in touch with all her grandchildren.
She said: “Famileo is a wonderful tool for keeping our family in touch and for sharing the memories we are making – for all of us.
“Mum says she really looks forward to each one, and the family life in those pages. It’s also a connection. I’m able to do something, from a distance, which gives my mum pleasure.
“My colleague refers to it as ‘WhatsApp for the elderly’. Even for families who aren’t as far flung as mine, it’s a wonderful tool for keeping in touch and sharing.”
Web site: www.famileo.com
*View the Famileo impact study which surveyed over 2,000 users in France vimeo.com/654481032.