We have provided much needed funding to help Starting Point Community Learning Partnership purchase new iPad Mini’s for use at their IT sessions with elderly residents.
Elderly learners found that iPads are much easier to use than laptops so it was important that Starting Point’s volunteer trainers were properly equipped when presenting the training sessions.
Starting Point currently run 12 IT drop in sessions a week, both in house and in community centres across Stockport including Edgeley, Brinnington, Romiley and Woodley. These sessions are led by an IT trainer and volunteer coordinator; however the sessions would not be possible without the support of the 18 Digital Champions (volunteers) who assess the needs of the learners and give them the help they need to get online and feel confident doing so.
The iPad Minis are loaned to the Digital Champions so that they can experiment and learn more about the device with the outcome that they are then confident in sharing their learning with the learners.
Laura Ward from Starting Point explained;
“The majority of our learners at the sessions are elderly, and we have found that tablets are the accessible, lighter and finger friendly alternative to laptops which can be difficult for those learners with problems such as arthritis and immobility.
“In addition, they are a great social tool. Learners are able to sit around a table in a circle with a cup of tea whilst they learn, without the physical barrier of a laptop screen. We recognise that tablets are becoming more popular with our learners so it is important that our volunteers have this technology available to enable them to remain one step ahead of the learners.
“Our Digital Champions are local volunteers who are not financially able to purchase equipment such as iPads. 80% of the volunteers are out of work or retired and due to this they can often feel financially excluded. Having access to equipment will not only assist them in their roles, but they will also feel valued as it proves that we have listened to them.”
The Digital Champion project has been running for the past five years in the heart of the community with local volunteers. The volunteers receive regular training so they are skilled and comfortable in their role. Recently, the rapid influx in learners using iPads and tablets has been overwhelming for the majority of volunteers who do not have access to this kind of equipment in their homes.
In Starting Point’s latest email newsletter they highlighted that “2014 saw more tablet users than ever before, as our learners started to borrow and purchase their own devices. We have tried to support our volunteers to learn the new skills required, using the limited technology that we had available to us. We are really pleased that Forever Manchester has helped us buy new iPad minis. We know that they will come in very useful.”
The learners have benefitted greatly from being trained on and using the iPad minis.
Allan aged 86 from Woodley said “I never thought I would be able to use a computer, I’m 86 and struggle with arthritis so using a mouse is difficult and I’m so slow I just got very impatient with it all. Sue (one of the volunteers) suggested that I try an iPad and I would never go back. I’ve now bought my own iPad and had WiFi installed in my flat. From coming to these sessions I have learnt that I can use it to play music and read the news. I use Spotify every day which is free! Without the sessions I wouldn’t know any of this, and I wouldn’t have met half the people on this estate. Long may it reign!”
Anne from Edgeley explained “My Grandaughter bought me an iPad for Christmas last year and I was completely stuck. I come here every Tuesday and learn something new every week. I can skype and use Facebook now. I know I can probably do this at home but I always seem to get stuck and there is always someone to help me here and show me where I’m going wrong.”
To find out more about the great work that Starting Point do please visit www.startpoint.org.uk
Follow them on twitter at @startpointsk6