Middleton’s newest, oldest digital champions

Leeds Libraries and Halifax have teamed up to bring digital skills training to over-65s at Middleton Elderly Aid in another example of how different organisations are collaborating as part of the 100% Digital Leeds movement to fight the digital divide.  In late 2018 we wrote about how this relationship came about and the goals that we shared to promote independence, reduce social isolation and improve health and wellbeing for MEA’s members.

As part of their commitment to improving the lives of their service users MEA joined the Online Centres Network as well as using our tablet lending scheme to fantastic effect – borrowing four iPads to use for digital skills classes before successfully applying for a £1,500 activation grant, through 100% Digital Leeds and Good Things Foundation‘s Join the Movement funding scheme, which they used to buy their own iPads.

Our Digital Inclusion Coordinators met with Halifax who offered to provide some of their banking staff as volunteers to help with digital skills training and in January 2019 we combined to start a Beginners ICT course every Friday at MEA.  A variety of people attended at different skill levels and in nine hours learning across six sessions the course covered a large number of subjects such as messaging, taking photos, downloading apps, internet safety and getting in touch with family.

Here’s what some of the attendees said about the course:

“Before this course I had never used a computer or a tablet at all and I had to learn from scratch.  We started right from the beginning and before long I was using Google and Youtube and listened to some Roy Orbison songs.  I didn’t have my own device like some of the others and I was able to borrow one to take home with me to practice through the week where my granddaughter can help me.  We downloaded some apps and the guys helped me to set up an email address and send my first email.  I have nephews in Vienna and Australia that I would like to talk with so what I’ve learned will be great for me.”   – George

“Firstly it’s given me confidence to use my iPad, I’m not afraid of it anymore.  I know now the answers are in front of me I just needed the confidence to play with it.  It was daunting at first and we all needed to ask a lot of questions but the lads were so patient and it’s been really fun.  I’ve learned so much like how to use Sat Nav, I’ve signed up for Facebook to see family photos, and I can get bus times at home now instead of hanging around at a cold bus stop.” – Mary

The group came on in leaps and bounds; from the first session when there was a palpable sense of trepidation in the room to a few weeks later where all the attendees were learning quickly and helping to teach each other, the change was fantastic.

Each attendee received a 100% Digital Leeds pin badge and a Digital Champion certificate and were delighted when Halifax announced that they would be continuing the course for a further six weeks with the aim of making the group self-sustainable so that the members can continue to learn from each other.

If your organisation would like to learn how to embed digital into the work you’re doing with Leeds residents please get in touch. There are more funding opportunities on the horizon and we’re always looking at new ways to help organisations across Leeds to assist their service users with digital.

Middleton Elderly Aid are also looking for volunteers and if you’d like to help out or learn more about the organisation you can contact them on info@middletonelderlyaid.org.uk


This post was written by Paul Wilkes and first appeared on the 100% Digital Leeds website

Photo: Digital Champion George with Paul Wilkes

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