DEDICATED volunteers working with older people at one of Scotland’s leading providers for housing and care are using their own time to pass on essential IT skills.
Bield, which has over 170 services in Scotland, is giving older people the chance to develop their computer and web skills as part of its Silver Surfers programme.
Liz Crawford has been volunteering with Bield’s Tay Court sheltered housing complex in Monifieth since March of last year, and she spends one day a week with resident Barbara Pilkington, helping her to build up her computer and internet experience.
Barbara, 85, a keen zumba enthusiast, is now able to upload images from her fitness classes to her computer and can also design posters and flyers with her new found skills.
She said: “ I’ve had my laptop for around four years after originally buying it to send emails to friends and family that live here and abroad, just so I could keep in touch with them.
“When the chance came around to work with Liz as part of Bield’s Silver Surfer’s project, I was delighted as I was keen to learn about some of the different things I could be doing on my computer.
“Liz has opened up a new world for me through her patient help and encouragement, and learning from her has involved a lot of laughs.
“I can now do many so things, such as uploading pictures and attaching files to emails. I have also had a crash course on how to use Skype, which I use to speak to my grand children who live in England.
“I used to be scared of using the computer and this meant I stuck to the basics and I never thought I would be capable of doing half the things I can do now.
“I would hugely recommend that anyone with a computer learns how to use it to it’s full potential, even if you, like me, are slightly older, as it really does open the doors to a whole new world.”
Liz decided to volunteer for Bield’s Silver Surfer project after finding that she missed using a computer after leaving her last job and she realised she wanted to pass on the skills she had built up over the years.
Liz said: “It is really important that everyone should know how to use a computer and get online as it is fast becoming a tool essential to day to day life, no matter your age or profession.
“Working with Barbara has been a great experience for me, because as much as I am teaching her new skills I am also learning more, each day, myself.
“I find working on the Silver Surfers project extremely rewarding and I would recommend any body thinking of volunteering to consider Bield as an organisation to work with.
“It’s great to see older people embracing life and living truly independently. Just because you are of certain age it does not mean you should stop looking into the future and all it can bring.”
This month, Liz will be taking on her second student, Dot, and she hopes to provide as much useful training and information to her as she did to Barbara.
Brian Logan, chief executive of Bield, said: “Our volunteer network is stronger than ever and is really helping to make an impact with people using over services across the country.
“Our silvers surfers project really embodies our ‘free to be philosophy’, ensuring that our service users are getting the opportunities to live independently whilst doing activities to keep them active.
“The Silver Surfers project embodies Bield’s ‘Free to Be’ philosophy which enables people make their own choices about how they live their lives while being there to support them when they need it.”
Bield – a registered charity – has grown from humble beginnings, starting out with one housing development in Bo’ness to become a major provider of a wide range of housing and services for around 20,000 older people across 22 local authority areas.