Funded by Team London/London Mayor’s Office and Southwark Community Council, much appreciated by Golden Oldies Trustees and members.
Golden Oldies launched the digital citizen’s project in April 2017. The project was advertised widely via social media local libraries, Community action Southwark and other local organisations. Many volunteers came forward and though many came forward they were younger that the group of peers we were initially seeking. The project was delivered each Thursday during the Golden Oldies Club meetings held at Walworth Methodist Church.
After discussing this issue with Team London, we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t really in the organisations best interest to turn away people who wanted to donate their valuable time and energy due to the fact that they fell just outside of the stated age range. The volunteers were then re-contacted and invited to take part in the project.
Preparations made including focus groups for members
Focus groups were held with members to better understand their current IT knowledge and to ascertain what skills they would like to gain from taking part in this course. Each participant completed a questionnaire and the knowledge gained informed the training course.
Training and induction for volunteers
Once the volunteers where recruited we provided an induction and training day where volunteers received a training pack one of the volunteers has over 20 years IT experience and was asked to assume the role of lead trainer. Mr Spark devised a training programme for the volunteers to follow and then delivered the training course to the volunteers. The training program covered various topics that we previously concluded from our earlier research, was relevant to the service users.
Topics included 1) navigating the internet, 2) how to stay safe online 4) how to set up an email address 3) online shopping and how to book appointments online.
Once the course concluded we held verbal focus groups to gain feedback from the trainers and trainees regarding their experience on this project.
Quite a large proportion of the volunteers had extremely basic IT skills and wanted to use this volunteering opportunity as a means of acquiring better IT skills for themselves. This meant that the training process took much longer that initially anticipated. Initially training and induction was due to be set over two days, however training for many of the tech buddies ended up being spread over the course of approximately 8 days. Once this training was completed the tech buddies felt more confident in their ability to deliver the course.
The course also took longer to deliver than first anticipated due to set backs like illness. We also we had to navigate around service users GP/hospital appointments etc consequently the three training sessions in many cases extended to approximately 5 training sessions or more. Spreading the course over a longer period meant that the participants were able to take their time and learn at a slower pace which appeared to suit them better. This allowed them to have enough time to fully understand what they had previously learnt without rushing them to move on to the next topic.
This project has very much been a success for Golden Oldies with increased participation from older volunteers and a high retention rate and increased knowledge of the digital world for 60 local seniors of BAME backgrounds.
A proportion of volunteers have also committed to support Golden Oldies in future digital projects.
Case Study (Volunteer/ learner/trainer)
Mrs JL is a retired 67 year old of African descent. After working in the hospitality industry for most her life J had to retire at the age 55 - in order to take care of her sick husband.
Mr L passed away 5 years ago and since then JL has been filling her time with volunteering opportunities and helping out at her local church.
JL says “it can be very lonely being on your own once your children have grown up and your partner has passed away. It can be difficult knowing what to do in the daytime. I really enjoy volunteering it gives me a sense of purpose. I am particularly interested in this project because I don’t know too much about computers just the very basics. This project has allowed me to learn something new which is good for me. I’ve always enjoyed helping other people that’s the sort of person I am.”
JL received six training sessions before she felt ready to pass on the digital knowledge that she had gained. She now has delivered training sessions in, setting up your own email account, online shopping, online safety and booking appointments online.
“This project has been really satisfying and I’m glad that I took part” says JL.