Helping older people get online

TimeBank is currently co-ordinating EE’s digital skills employee volunteering project. TimeBank has had a long and successful partnership with the organisation since it began managing employee volunteering events for T-Mobile in 2006.

The focus of the project has moved from team volunteering days to digital skills-based volunteering – helping local communities to make the most of technology and being online.

One of the key events of the project is the Techy Tea Party. Techy Tea Parties aim to demystify technology such mobile phones, digital cameras and iPads, address older people’s fears about using the internet, and demonstrate how easy it is to get online and get connected. Techy Tea Parties are informal and very sociable with plenty of tea and biscuits!

Last week the latest Techy Tea Party took place at EE’s offices in Paddington. Guests from Age UK London arrived armed with questions about the latest gadgets and how to stay connected. If either the volunteers or guests were nervous about meeting each other they certainly didn’t show it. As soon as the guests were in the room everyone started chatting to each other with no need for an introduction from the lead volunteer! The enthusiasm of both the guests and the volunteers was great to see.

People shouldn’t feel embarrassed about asking for help when seeking knowledge and information. An informal event like a Techy Tea Party allows skills to be exchanged freely. One of the guests offered to teach an EE employee yoga, as she was so happy with the information she received about how to take better pictures on her new digital camera. 

Pandora, another guest, said: “I don’t know where else I would have got this help in such a friendly and sociable environment.”

Volunteering doesn’t have to be a big time commitment; it is about the quality of the time given. The EE employees and guests had just over an hour together, but the guests left feeling inspired and the employees felt satisfied they’d given the guests valuable new skills.