Blanche’s Big Aberdeen Story

img_8164Blanche has been coming along to Silver City Surfer sessions regularly for a few months.  “Coming here makes me feel young again – back to school; learning something new … it’s fascinating!” she says.  “I had two Kindles for a few years not knowing how to use them.  I got a Kindle for reading and my son gave me an updated one.  Both sons have tried to teach me on their computers but they know so much and they’re so fast that they don’t have the patience.”

“One day I pressed a button on the Kindle and it came up with a line that gave lots of different choices you could pick.  I hadn’t realized that I could get internet on my Kindle.  So; I started asking around for how I could get someone to help me.  When I was in the local library, I mentioned wanting to learn and they told me about the Silver City Surfers’ Reaching Out Going Local sessions running for free.  They’re just along the road from where I stay.”

“My first lesson.  I went home and phoned my grand-daughter and said ‘Stephie I now know what an app is!’.  That was how excited I was.”  And Blanche is enthusiastic about learning more.  “All of the volunteers are absolutely great.  They are most helpful and you can ask any question.  Like today, I wanted to know how to get capital letters on my phone and I now know how to do it.” The Coordinator, Suzanne, is a lovely person; she’s good at noticing things and encouraging people to learn.

The sessions have motivated Blanche to get a broadband connection in her own home, for the very first time.  “When I first came here, I didn’t have internet in the house.  But last week I got connected in my house because I wanted it so much and I want to be able to browse the internet.  I have a lot of practicing to do.  I’m just at the beginning and feel there’s a vast world of information out there for me.

And her advice to someone who thinks they’re too old to use technology?  “Well; I’m nae!  Look at me.  I’m 81 years young and willing to have a go and am doing so.  It helps to keep your brain active, it’s enjoyable as it’s something new, and there’s so much you can do with it.”

“I wish I’d been taught this years ago as it’s taken me away from thinking about my aches and pains.”

Aberdeen Issues from this story

  1. Is the Digital Divide Increasing Inequality in Scotland?

Silver City Surfers are Blanche’s STORYTELLER.

Silver City Surfers is a small local charity which aims to help older people with modern technology, thereby reducing loneliness and isolation for those aged over 55 within the City of Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland. We provide free tutoring and support on all forms of modern technology (e.g. laptops, iPads & other tablets, smartphones, digital cameras, etc) through mentoring and one-to-one support sessions provided by experienced volunteers. The charity cannot offer home visits and would like to encourage older adults to visit its sessions for advice about technology at home. It is important for us to make these sessions friendly and welcoming thus providing regular social interaction – coffees and teas are offered thus creating the feel of an Internet Cafe.

Silver City Surfers work with the Community in Mastrick with funding awarded from People’s Health Trust using money raised by HealthKind through The Health Lottery.  Their Reaching Out Going Local project takes place in Mastrick Community Centre.  Here, older people can learn technology at their own pace and within their own very local and social Community setting.  Participants choose what and how they want to learn and can bring their own devices or use ones that are on site.  The sessions are informal, driven by the participants and have a social element which encourages people to make connections, share tips about using technology and find out about other activities they can get involved in.

Silver City Surfers also run weekly sessions in Seaton, Cummings Park and the City Centre with funding from Fairer Aberdeen Fund.  For full information on their activities including monthly talks, all sessions throughout the City and their intergenerational project with Schools visit www.silvercitysurfers.co.uk  You can also contact them by emailing silvercitysurfers@gmail.com or phoning 07799 371 329

If you’re interested in volunteering with Silver City Surfers and believe you can help older people gain basic computer and Internet skills, please contact them for a chat or complete the volunteer application form.

CONNECTORS

  • One Digital Meetup Aberdeen – The first One Digital Meetup in Aberdeen took place on the 7th September in Aberdeen City Centre.
  • SCVO has lots of information about digital skills at http://digital.scvo.org.uk/about/basic-digital-skills/
  • Doteveryone is a new kind of organisation that’s here to show what’s possible: tech that does good, at scale, for the future.  They work out what will make people’s lives better, what matters the most, and what the market isn’t doing. They  listen to people, build prototypes, and make them work for the people who are actually going to use them. For everyone, by everyone.
  • Scotland’s Digital Future outlines the steps that are required to ensure Scotland is well placed to take full advantage of all the economic, social and environmental opportunities offered by the digital age.
  • Mastrick Library have shared information and made space available to Siliver City Surfers.  Other libraries can be found at http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/Library_Service/Libraries_Menu.asp
  • Mastrick Community Centre promote Silver City activities.  Other community centres can be found at http://www.aberdeencity.gov.uk/xcc_communitylistsubcat.asp?ind2=22
  • The James Tyrrell Centre provides day-care for approximately 60 people who are lonely and depressed. They enjoy a variety of stimulating activities including board games, physical games and gentle exercises, quizzes, ball games, memory games, singing, and bingo. Members are given a nourishing 3 course meal and afternoon tea. Members enjoy friendship and company in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.
  • Mastrick Matters gives a voice to the citizens of Mastrick,  a vibrant and creative community and this magazine to represents a wide selection of news, views, activities and events that take place in the community.The magazine is put together by volunteer local residents from the Mastrick Community who form the main editorial team behind each issue of the magazine. Staff from shmuPRESS and shmuDESIGN assist the editorial teams in pulling together the magazine content, designing and getting the magazines to the printer. shmuPRESS also organises the distribution of the magazines in Mastrick.
  • Tune into all your favourites on Aberdeen’s premier community radio station SHMUfm-99.8fm– your community, your radio, with people you know. Full schedule and links available at ww.shmu.org.uk/fm/schedule. Every Wednesday, 2-3pm you can enjoy listening in to the ACVO and SHMU team absolutely live on the ‘So Why Don’t You …!’ programme.
  • The People’s Friend magazine has a Hand of Friendship campaign, which aims to make a real difference to the lives of the millions of people throughout the UK who feel lonely and isolated on a regular basis.
  • Volunteering opportunities for older people themselves and for others to volunteer with older people’s projects can be found through the Aberdeen Volunteer Centre at http://acvo.org.uk/volunteering/ as well as help for older people’s organisations seeking volunteers.  This includes opportunities for Business Skilled Volunteers and those who need help to become more business-like.
  • Student volunteers through https://www.ausa.org.uk/ have been very helpful to Silver City Surfers as have volunteers from RGU https://www.rguunion.co.uk/getinvolved/volunteering/ and NESCOL https://www.nescolsa.com/
  • Fairer Aberdeen Fund has supported Silver City Surfers as has Peoples health Trust and Crerars Hotels Trust.  Support, training and information about seeking funding from public, independent and private sector sources is available from ACVO’s Funding & Sustainability Officer, Alison Chandler at achandler@acvo.org.uk/http://acvo.org.uk/support/funding/
  • Age Scotland is the largest charity in Scotland dedicated to enabling everyone to make the most of later life.

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