As we approach another Get Online Week. I am currently running a series of days at Hasbury Community Centre Halesowen, where local people are invited to drop in for free advice about where to start, or have got started and need more advice and guidance on how to progress.
Essentially, I help people to think about what they would like to be able to do on the Internet, or suggest what they can do. Then we look at the best routes for them to achieve this in terms of cost and connection. Not only that. I discuss which local charities, government bodies and other associated organisations, can offer support in maintaining, or providing equipment. And also which organisations can offer help in terms of mentoring them to learn and build their technology skills.
Not everyone can learn in a class environment, and some of the people who come to me, want to find out what support and learning is available for a housebound relative, or someone they know of, who may be blind or deaf. Taking the step to become just a little Internet savvy, is an absolutely gigantic move for some. And I am still encountering people who don’t know how an Internet connection can be supplied. I recently had a conversation with an 87 year old lady, who was put off of having broadband installed, because she thought it meant laying cables and having her garden dug up.
Therefore, I think it’s good to be able to offer some kind of independent service, where people who are thinking about taking that step, and have an opportunity to chat informally about their options. A place where they not obliged to decide what action they are going to take straight away. Where Information leaflets are available for them to take away if they wish. I also offer to draft up the ideas for them on paper. Leaving them to go home and reflect on the conversation we’ve had.
When people walk in to see me at the centre, their eyes are not met with much technology, Just me and my seven year old laptop. It’s a well lit warm and cosy room, and is very much like walking in to a large living room, which I think helps them feel more at ease, when they start to talk about technology and ask me questions. Among the visitors I’ve had so far, one lady has started to gain more knowledge about her Linx tablet. And I have successfully put another lady in touch with the services of AbilityNet, which she now uses.
So this Get Online Week, if you are a local to Halesowen and may know someone who could benefit from this free advice and guidance I will be at the centre this Wednesday the 19th October from 10 am – 1pm. And you are involved or organised an event this week, I hope it goes well!