Techy tea party - sharing skills & mince pies

"I've never sent a text before and I've never been online"

Yesterday we joined our client and social housing provider Phoenix Community Housing’s Techy Tea Party.  This monthly event connects residents with volunteers to help answer questions about digital technology and teach essential online skills.  Phoenix provided laptops, tea and coffee and mince pies and volunteers brought their know-how and a friendly smile to help residents gain new skills and make the most of technology.

Phil, Jack and I enjoyed sharing our skills and supporting residents.  It was inspiring to see what a valuable resource these events are for residents unable to get online at home and the great potential for technology to help support their needs.  It was interesting to hear of the various life challenges residents have and to discuss how technology can help them to stay in touch, make life easier and speed up daily tasks. 

Some of the residents I spoke to had never been online or sent a text before; residents were brimming with questions about e-mail, shopping and banking online and how to use their phone.  Some residents were shown how to register on job sites, others wanted to learn about submitting educational coursework online and some wanted help on how to use their mobile phones.  The volunteers at Phoenix’s tea parties support people who cannot easily get help from anywhere else and it was wonderful to see so many volunteers giving up their time.  There was a very relaxed and sociable atmosphere and it was apparent that these events are also a valued opportunity for residents to get out and meet each other.  

I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my skills and it was great to see how residents were gaining confidence in learning new things.  Skills-based volunteering is a fantastic way to connect with people in the local community. Sharing skills doesn’t just help people in the community, it also benefits volunteers in developing their own skills whilst making a genuine difference in their communities. It’s always great to help people but being able to connect and meet face to face is very rewarding and it was interesting hearing about how technology can make a difference in individual’s lives.  Some of the residents I spoke to had disabilities and mobility issues and it was interesting gaining an insight into the challenges they face and discussing how technology can help make their lives easier.

Phoenix regularly have positive feedback from residents; of the 30 residents attending yesterday's event, 60% of the feedback indicated confidence in their use of computers and the Internet had improved.  Feedback regularly features the social benefits of the sessions, people often mention  ‘meeting people’ and ‘keeping in touch’.  In a recent interview, Phoenix resident Maxine Hart said:

‘Everyone is so welcoming and ready to help, it feels like a family here.  I have been shocked by how much I was missing out on –it’s been a real education. My daughter lives in New Zealand and I haven’t seen her face to face for over ten years. I have now set up my own Skype account and sent a contact request to my daughter so it shouldn’t be too long until we are seeing each other. Before, technology was like this other world that I just didn’t have a window into. This has given me a doorway into that other world and I’m not going to look back.’ 

Here's a short video of yesterday's Techy Tea Party:

Here's details on Phoenix's next Techy Tea Party and anyone interested in volunteering at future events can contact Phoenix here.

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