Getting Started launched its Silver Surfer Awards in May and the search is on once again for Ireland’s top Silver Surfers. The Awards celebrate and showcase older peoples’ use of the internet and technology.
This year we are looking for enthusiastic people over the age of 50 who have an interesting story to share about how they use their computer and the internet and who will become a role model to inspire more older people to embrace technology. We are calling on people across Ireland to nominate a friend, neighbour or relative who uses technology for pleasure or as a way to enhance the quality of their life.
The closing date for nominations is Sunday 5th October. The link to the nomination form is www.ageaction.ie/silversurfer
This is the sixth year of the awards and there are five award categories as follows: New to IT Award A person over the age of 50 who is new to technology and has overcome challenges to become an IT user
Hobbies on the Net Award An older person who uses the Internet to pursue their passion or hobby or who uses IT for communication and social networking
IT Tutor(s) of the Year An individual or group of any age who provides voluntary support to older learners
Google Silver Surfer Award An older person who embraces the Internet or technology with a sense of fun and adventure
Golden IT Award An individual over the age of 80 who uses technology to enhance their life
These stories are hugely important to assist us to encourage more older people to go online.
It has been a very busy start to 2014 at Age Action’s Getting Started programme. We provided one to one basic IT training to over 600 older people across Ireland between January and March with the assistance of hundreds of wonderful volunteer tutors. We have huge demand for training from older people and our waiting list for classes keeps growing as many people got a computer for Christmas but struggled to get started especially with Windows 8.
The Getting Started programme received an award in March from the Irish Institute of Training and Development The award is recognition of the excellent learner-centred training provided by our volunteer tutors and the work of our project officers who train these volunteers.
We are deeply honoured to win the award. It could not have been won without the great work the Getting Started team and the hundreds of dedicated volunteer tutors across Ireland. Of course, the ultimate winners are the older people who are learning new IT skills. Their lives are being transformed by being able for the first time to do things online that many people take for granted.
In the first part of the year we have expanded our schools programme and now have 10 schools running the programme with transition year students tutoring one to one to older people from their local communities. We continue to add corporate partners to the programme who are providing volunteer opportunities to their employees as volunteer tutors.
Thanks to all our supporters and we are looking forward to a busy 2nd quarter of the year and well done to all our volunteers for winning the award without their help we could not run the programme.
It has been a very busy couple of months at Age Action and the Getting Started programme provided one to one basic IT training for over 900 older people across Ireland between Oct. and Dec. with the assistance of hundred of wonderful volunteer tutors. We have huge demand for training from older people and our waiting list for classes keeps growing. Many of our learners have family abroad and wanted to learn how to Skype so they could see their children and grandchildren for Christmas as many would not make it home.
In October we celebrated Positive Ageing Week with hundreds of events around the country including a Try IT! event where older people came to their local library and with the assistance of a volunteer learned about the internet and how it could benefit them. We also held our annual Silver Surfer Awards to raise awareness about the benefits of being online with some great stories from our winners.
This autumn we also expanded the programme to include more schools, colleges and companies where students and employees volunteered to teach basic IT to older learners from their local community. We have also started running classes in nursing homes where residents have shown great interest in learning how to surf the web.
Thanks to all our supporters and volunteer tutors who help keep the programme going and provide older people with the opportunity and support to take those first steps online.
The summer months have been quiet as many of our older learners and volunteer were taking a well-deserved summer break and making the most of the fine weather. Getting Started was delighted to receive a grant from the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources under its Benefit 4 funding for e-inclusion projects. This will allow us to continue our work and to train 1,050 older learners by 3rd Dec. when the grant end. It had been a very busy September as its back to school time for everyone one not only the youngster. We have classes running in Dublin, Kildare, Cork, Waterford, Galway, Mayo, Roscommon and classes starting in Monaghan and Louth in October. We are also looking forward to next week's Positive Ageing Week and our Silver Surfer Awards.
Since the start of the year Getting Started has trained nearly 1,200 older people in basic ICT skills in Dublin, Kildare, Wexford, Donegal, Louth, Cork, Waterford, Mayo, Galway and Roscommon with the help of over 800 volunteers, but lack of funding for the programme has now become critical and the Project Officer's contract won't be renewed if funding can't be secured. We are waiting to hear if an application for government grant will be successful and also hoping to get sponsorship for the printing of our student and tutor manual. Many centres will be taking a break in July and August as demand is less in the summer months and many volunteers are on holidays. We hope if funding can be secured the programme will continue in Sept.
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