Well we’re only three days into Get online week but what a week it’s been already!
After stopping by several events over just a couple of days I feel like I’ve managed to get a pretty broad insight into the diverse ways the internet can have an impact on the life of someone who doesn’t yet take it for granted. It’s also been great to see how important Digital Champion volunteers are in making sure the digitally excluded don’t continue to miss out.
My week started at the Sheffield Pensions Action Group (SPAG) where Go ON Sheffield volunteers from Heeley Development Trust and Sheffield Hallam University were working with older members of the community to give them a taste of life online.
Here I managed to have a chat with Jackie, the SPAG secretary who told me how great it would be for her to be able to speak easily and cheaply to various siblings around the world, especially as some of them were struggling with ill health. Although much of Jackie’s family has spread out from their home town of Sheffield they are clearly still very close and it was lovely to see how excited Jackie was at the prospect of getting to grips with something like Skype.
From SPAG it was off to a stall in Sheffield’s Castle Market. A volunteer here, from the Broadband provider Plusnet proved to me how a generation that has grown up with the internet is essential in making sure that the previous generation don’t get left behind. Joanne had managed to make a real difference to her mother’s life by inspiring her to get online, and after a year of encouragement and support she has gone from a complete web sceptic to tracing their family history back almost three centuries online, and has even got in touch with a distant branch of her family who were able to share photos of her own great-grandfather.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit an intergenerational session at King Ecgberts School in Totley, in the south of Sheffield. It’s in a more affluent area of the city, where you might assume more people were online, but the hard work of local councillor Keith Hill and Charlotte, who works at the school, soon turned up a group of locals who were absolutely missing out.
The school had invited residents of local sheltered accommodation to sit with A-level students who had never known a world without the web. This opportunity to share their expertise with an older generation brought out the very best of the students who without exception were enthusiastic and patient. It was wonderful to see them realise that because the internet is so integral to their own lives, they could make a huge difference to someone else’s by helping them take their first steps online.