Middleton Elderly Aid borrowed 4 tablets via the 100% Digital Leeds Tablet Lending Scheme to help increase the amount of digital skills training they could offer to their service users. Joining the Online Centres Network allowed Middleton Elderly Aid to make best use of the Learn My Way platform during their learning sessions, and a small grant from Good Things Foundation allowed them to buy their own equipment. Linking with corporate volunteers allowed Middleton Elderly Aid to offer self-sustainable learning sessions as volunteers train learners to become Digital Champions so that the members can continue to learn from each other.
Middleton Elderly Aid
Middleton Elderly Aid are a charity promoting independence amongst the over-60s living in Middleton, Leeds. They do fantastic work and provide a huge range of services and activities for local older people such as lunch clubs, coffee mornings, day trips, exercise classes, holidays, games, bingo, hearing aid clinics and more. They are located in one of the most digitally excluded areas in Leeds and work with with some of the most excluded demographics
Improving digital inclusion for older people
From the start it was clear that 100% Digital Leeds and Middleton Elderly Aid had shared goals including:
- Improving health and wellbeing for residents
- Reducing social isolation
- Promoting independence
We first met in June 2018 and discussed the work that we were both doing. From this we identified that Middleton Elderly Aid could benefit from joining the Online Centres Network. They had a Beginners ICT class being run by Age UK but this was coming to an end and there was interest for more digital skills training from the members. Becoming an Online Centre gave them access to the online learning platform Learn My Way as well as other benefits such as support from Good Things Foundation and access to funding opportunities.
Digital skills workshops
In September 2018 in order to facilitate further digital skills learning at the centre they submitted a tablet lending application form. We were delighted to add them to our tablet lending scheme and they borrowed four iPads for use in their classes.
The classes covered a wide variety of learning, members brought in their own tablets or devices if they had them, and those who did not have their own equipment were able to use one of our iPads. Subjects covered included the controls of a tablet, details around settings and accessibility, how to take photos and send them to family and friends, and how to use apps to make their lives easier.
“I usually prefer to do things manually but I have my own tablet at home which I find useful for a few things like Ebay, Googling and keeping in touch with friends. There was a mix of people on the course from those who had their own PCs or tablets to those who had never been online before. I brought my device with me and learned some useful tips which will help me get more use out it. Middleton Elderly Aid really is a hub of the community and the digital skills training is another of the great services provided here that can help older people try something new, make friends and improve their wellbeing.” Denise – centre member and volunteer.
“Being involved with 100% Digital Leeds and Leeds Libraries has helped open up new opportunities for Middleton Elderly Aid and our members as well as securing new funding for us to buy our own devices which will help us going forward. Supporting our members to improve their digital skills promotes independence and enables them to save time and money in their day to day lives. Adding digital elements to the work that we’re already doing will help us ensure that nobody is left behind in an increasingly digital world.” – Sam, Operations Manager.
Our Digital Inclusion Coordinators met with Halifax who offered to provide some of their banking staff as volunteers to help with digital skills training and in January 2019 we combined to start a Beginners ICT course every Friday at MEA. A variety of people attended at different skill levels and in nine hours learning across six sessions the course covered a large number of subjects such as messaging, taking photos, downloading apps, internet safety and getting in touch with family.
Here’s what some of the attendees said about the course:
“Before this course I had never used a computer or a tablet at all and I had to learn from scratch. We started right from the beginning and before long I was using Google and Youtube and listened to some Roy Orbison songs. I didn’t have my own device like some of the others and I was able to borrow one to take home with me to practice through the week where my granddaughter can help me. We downloaded some apps and the guys helped me to set up an email address and send my first email. I have nephews in Vienna and Australia that I would like to talk with so what I’ve learned will be great for me.” – George
“Firstly it’s given me confidence to use my iPad, I’m not afraid of it anymore. I know now the answers are in front of me I just needed the confidence to play with it. It was daunting at first and we all needed to ask a lot of questions but the lads were so patient and it’s been really fun. I’ve learned so much like how to use Sat Nav, I’ve signed up for Facebook to see family photos, and I can get bus times at home now instead of hanging around at a cold bus stop.” – Mary
The group came on in leaps and bounds; from the first session when there was a palpable sense of trepidation in the room to a few weeks later where all the attendees were learning quickly and helping to teach each other, the change was fantastic.
Each attendee received a 100% Digital Leeds pin badge and a Digital Champion certificate and were delighted when Halifax announced that they would be continuing the course for a further six weeks with the aim of making the group self-sustainable so that the members can continue to learn from each other.
If your organisation would like to learn how to embed digital into the work you’re doing with Leeds residents please get in touch. There are more funding opportunities on the horizon and we’re always looking at new ways to help organisations across Leeds to assist their service users with digital.
Middleton Elderly Aid are also looking for volunteers and if you’d like to help out or learn more about the organisation you can contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org