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Digital volunteers offer tips for older internet users

Published Wednesday, 08 March 2017

A scheme run by the Council’s library services and Coventry University which helps older people make better use of social and digital media is going from strength to strength.

Gen2Gen Digital Skills

Gen2gen forms part of Coventry’s digital strategy which recognises that internet use is becoming regarded as the fourth utility service alongside gas, electricity and water.

During the past four years 150 Coventry University student volunteers have provided IT training to hundreds of older people. Coventry’s Central Library hosts the sessions using its IT facilities. 

Cllr Kevin Maton Cabinet Member for Education, said that the intergenerational project was fantastic. He said: “Children and young people live day to day with digital media. They are confident and knowledgeable  about talking to older people about the latest digital technology.

“It’s great to see library resources being used in this way. It’s in an informal setting and the feedback from older people has been really positive.”

Cllr John Mutton, Cabinet Member for Strategic Finance and Resources, said that it was vital that older people were not alienated because of increasing digital technology.

He said: “We have introduced a digital strategy as a Council and for me it is important that we retain the right levels of human interaction in the services we provide while working in new ways.

“That’s why we should be looking at ways to equip people who find it harder to access the internet with the opportunities to develop the skills to use new technology for business and leisure.

“Gen2gen also means that we are ensuring maximum use of library resources. It is a project that is proving really successful.” 

The Council’s digital strategy sets out significant budget savings while improving services and meeting the demand of local people. 

More than 500 people have taken part in Gen2gen learning about  anything from setting up an email account, use of the Internet,Tablets, Smartphones, laptops and digital cameras.

At the same time the student volunteers get much-needed experience in community-based work which will stand them in good stead after graduation and the people receiving the training will no longer feel that modern life is passing them by.

Gen2gen is being extended in Stoke and Earlsdon libraries, as it has proved such a success in the Central library. 

Last year the project won best Community Engagement Initiative at the Coventry University Excellence Awards and was runner up in the city council’s Coventry Community Cohesion Awards.   

To book a session all people have to do is visit one of the libraries listed above and leave their name, contact number and what they would like to learn in a session.

People who take part are open to have as many sessions as they would like depending on the student’s availability. 

Sukhy Heir, Based at Coventry Central Library said: “When you belong to a generation that grew up with the typewriter and tippex for correcting your mistakes, it is easy to appreciate that with the advancement of technology, some of us can feel left behind and out of touch.

“Hopefully the project helps and builds confidence for all the people who feel left on the side trying to catch up with this digital age.”

Ian Dunn, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience at Coventry University said: 

“It’s great to be involved in initiatives like which obviously have benefits for the local community but which also give our students the chance to undertake valuable extracurricular activities beyond the lecture theatre. It’s the sort of thing that sounds really impressive to prospective employers. 

“The Gen2gen scheme has proved very popular with our students. We’ve had lots of willing volunteers getting involved and we’ve got more enthusiastic recruits signing up to take part in future training sessions.” 

Diana Ghiurcuta, who is studying advertising and marketing at Coventry University, is one of the students who have taken part in the Gen2gen scheme. 

She said: “I feel I’ve made a difference to people’s lives by taking part in this programme and it’s been great to see them growing in confidence. Volunteering for Gen2gen has been a really rewarding experience.”

Photo: student, Margil Patel providing a helping hand to Pauline Horsfall one of the many learners.

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