Helping communities get online

 

A community group in Norbury is helping some of the borough’s senior citizens overcome their fear of technology and learn about the advantages of getting online.

Each Friday around 30 people attend the sessions, which are led by volunteers, at St Philip’s Church in Beech Road.

They learn about how to perform a range of online tasks such as sending emails, uploading photos, using social media and internet banking.

The council recently gave its support to the venture by providing laptop computers to the group, as part of its digital inclusion campaign to help people become confident in using technology to go online.

The group’s eldest silver surfer, June Singer, who turns 91 next month, said: “I think these workshops are great. I know nothing at all about computers, it’s all very complicated. I’ve really enjoyed myself – I hope one day to get an iPad to keep up with people.”

Father Younis Francis, the vicar of St Philip’s Church, said: “These workshops have gone very well – we had 33 people turn up for the first session and it’s been really popular ever since.

“It’s opening up a whole new world for them. It helps people who live on their own and presents the opportunity to socialise. They learn new skills such as sending email, Skpe, shopping. It helps them to build up relationships and friendships with people.

“We’ve been really pleased with the council’s support, without that we wouldn’t have been able to get started.”

On Friday Councillor Mark Watson, the council’s cabinet member for safety and justice, paid a visit to the church to see the sessions in action.

“I was really impressed by what I saw at St Philip’s. What they are doing is fantastic in helping so many people learn about how to use the internet.

“The council is passionate about getting people online and helping them realise the advantages.

“It also helps save money, with the average household able to save an estimated £560 a year compared with one that is offline.

“Being online makes it really easy for people to communicate and keep in touch, combating any isolation that those who live alone may feel.

“We don’t want anyone to be left behind by technology, which is why we are keen to support this type of initiative and help other groups interested in doing something similar.”

Councillor Mark Watson, cabinet member for safety and justice

The church was able to host the sessions thanks to funding from the diocese.

The council is looking at how it can develop different ways of supporting the community, and this project was a way of trialling what could be done.

In addition, it offers grants to small community groups that may help similar initiatives get off the ground, known as the Active Communities Fund.

For more information visit www.croydon.gov.uk/acf

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