by Nausica Rosina, Customer Assurance Manager
In July last year, CONTEXT launched a project, which looks at improving the IT literacy skills of elderly citizens in our community. As a technology tracking company, we wanted to help the older generation to become more confident and independent when it comes to computers and technology. At the heart of the project, we wanted to ‘give something back’ to the community in Putney by inviting a number of 65+ year olds to our office for regular IT coaching to help them make the most out of using technology and making the most of the internet.
These sessions were run free of charge and typically involved hourly one-to-one coaching with either a laptop or tablet, tailored towards what the individual was looking to learn. Since launch we have run 49 of such sessions, typically during Thursday lunchtimes and we plan to continue these after the summer.
Following an initial 90 hours of volunteering, the first phase of the project came to an end last week. We are very pleased with the level of IT literacy achieved by our students, who are now able to send emails, bookmark their favourite pages, watch YouTube videos, use Dropbox and much more. The end of the first part of the programme was marked by a ceremony at the CONTEXT offices in Putney where CEO Howard Davies and Managing Director of Retail Adam Simon welcomed the students and their families before certificates were handed out to all those who took part. The general consensus (over coffee and cake) amongst the students who had taken part in the sessions over the past months was that they enjoyed the learning and would welcome more of this type of programme in the community.
The project has been equally rewarding for our volunteers as one pointed out “I was looking for an opportunity to do something like this and when CONTEXT launched the scheme, I was delighted to be part of it.” Another said: “Even if I’m busy at work I am always happy to put some time aside and spend it with by teaching the older generation so that we can share some of our IT knowledge and contribute positively to the community around us.”
We will be re-starting the sessions in September 2015 with new students, since our aim is to teach basic IT skills, we are looking for senior members of the community who have never used a PC or know very little about the internet. Keep an eye out for advertisements in local community centres for more information.
Student successes to date included the ability to move from:
– using the PCs only for solitaire card games” to getting to grips with programmes like Dropbox
– not knowing how to switch on a PC to sending emails (one student bought her first laptop to come to our sessions!)
– being a basic and confused PC user to a confident PC and iPad user