Oct 8, 2018

Tutor and Learner Experience

Volunteer tutor Alvaro with learner Anne Marie
Volunteer tutor Alvaro with learner Anne Marie

Pleasure to work with Ann Marie

The Getting Started tutor experience

It has been an absolute pleasure to get to know Ann Marie and introduce her into the world of technology and Internet: getting the basics on how to search on google, how to book flights or how to comfortably surf the web are life-changing skills, writes volunteer tutor Alvaro. The first day I met Ann Marie, I sensed she was hesitant and scared of technology, hearing on the radio that people got scammed and lost money over the Internet. She was also worried other people might be recording conversations or seeing messages. She clearly wanted to jump into the smartphone era, but these fears were holding her back. She was also a big fan of the keyboard on her old phone, something she would have to give up for the screen keyboard present on smartphones nowadays. We spent the first 2 classes just talking about technology in general and clarifying concepts, reassuring her the Internet was a safe place if she had the skills to use it properly. Then, we moved on to the benefits of using the Internet: better deals and discounts on hotels, restaurants and cafés reviews, using Google Maps to find routes, getting opening hours of places in town, and other useful information such as free music and videos on youtube!

Her first smartphone

The big day came when she decided to purchase a smartphone and come to Age Action right away with her new tool. We showed her the basics of the phone: how to turn it off, how to change volume, how to make and receive phone calls, take pictures, and how to use Google on it. She was delighted she could get an alarm call every morning with the phone. By the end of the class she was already sending messages to her sister and using Google voice to ask questions. Ann Marie now has the skills to get comfortable with technology, and use her new smartphone daily, you can be next, don’t be afraid of getting in touch with Age Action and we will have you getting started with the basics of the digital life There’s an option within the keyboard settings, where you can get a larger, brighter keyboard with the keys backlight in dark colours, this simple tool will make your typing much easier, especially in the first weeks with the smartphone. P

Stepping into a technological utopia

The Getting Started learner experience

Having stepped past the threshold of the front door of the Age Action Ireland office on Model Farm Road, my sister and I took the leap into an unknown technological utopia. We were greeted by the Administrators, Julie and Sigrid who were pleasant and most welcoming, writes learner Ann Marie. Then I was introduced to my tutor, Alvaro. He was truly wonderful. How he made the world of tech savvy techniques easier to understand. At first, I was apprehensive about pursing the course. Fear is one of the greatest barriers to progress. I can honestly say that the material learned concerning computer operations and mobile phone devices was amazing.

New Samsung phone

For myself, I ended up purchasing a Samsung mobile phone.  I never thought I would do that.  Now I can make a call, take a call, go on Google; use the camera. There are so many more Information technology skills to acquire - I find that I am ready to “launch” myself into this amazing world. Alvaro really explained concepts to me so patiently. The other tutors, too, were very helpful. Conversations over tea and coffee were inspiring and interesting. We truly enjoyed ourselves. Mary and I would recommend others to take on the courses offered in technology by Age Action. We thank all concerned in our learning very much for opening our world to technology.

Jul 16, 2018

The Great Backyard Blitz!

Celebrity Architect and RTÉ star Dermot Bannon along with over 450 Bank of Ireland volunteers tackled 200 gardens in Dublin, Cork and Galway in June as part of the Great Bank of Ireland Backyard Blitz.

The initiative sees Bank of Ireland staff give their time to help Age Action’s Care & Repair service by providing gardening work for older people who find it difficult to do the work themselves. The work done ranged from small summer tidy up’s to major clear-outs of overgrown gardens.

Care & Repair Manager John O’Mahony was delighted with the turnout on the day. “As people begin to lose mobility the garden is often the first thing that causes a problem. This can be very upsetting when people have kept beautiful gardens throughout their lives. Many of our clients were able to sit out in the garden for the first time in years and luckily we had the weather for them to enjoy it! This was a great example of how a big company like Bank of Ireland can make a real difference in their community.”

Margaret from East Wall was thrilled with the work she had done “‘They were ever so nice. They went at the garden and worked like hell’ she says. ‘They said they enjoyed it even though they looked knackered when they’d finished!’

As well as providing gardening work in older people’s homes, the Seán O’Casey Community Centre Garden in East Wall benefited from an expert makeover. The Centre provides a space for members of the 5,000-strong community in the area, 70% of which are aged over 65. With Dermot Bannon’s design expertise, Bank of Ireland volunteers refurbished the garden adding a patio area, pergola, beautiful plants and a mural to brighten up the area for all the residents of the community.

Discussing the initiative, Backyard Blitz Ambassador Dermot Bannon said, “The Bank of Ireland Backyard Blitz initiative is a fantastic way to support communities and I am very proud to be involved. As an architect, I know from experience that once a space looks well people are more inclined to use it and enjoy it. Strong communities are built on strong community spirit and this initiative from Age Action and Bank of Ireland will make a real impact for those involved.”

The Backyard Blitz involved:

  • 453 Volunteers and garden experts
  • 200 Gardens
  • 11,990 Metres squared grass cut
  • 2,003 Metres squared weeds pulled
  • 4,572 Metres squared paving washed
  • 7,426 Shrubs pruned
  • 150 Litres of sun cream
  • 1,200 Litres of water
  • 1,041 Cups of tea
Jul 11, 2018

Silver Surfer Awards 2018



Margaret Byrne is our 2018 Silver Surfer
Margaret B is our overall 2018 Silver Surfer winner

65-year-old Margaret B from Tallaght, in Dublin, is the overall winner of the 2018 open eir Silver Surfer Awards. 

The ceremony was officially opened by Minister of State at the Department of Health with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People

In addition to winning the overall award Margaret also picked up “The Hobbies on the Net” award. Margaret (also known as “The Crafty Irish Girl” from her hugely popular blog) is a crochet, knitting and jewellery making enthusiast who uses social media to grow the craft community, and help keep hand craft skills alive.

She has a Facebook page which she uses for sharing ideas and knitting patterns and she also provides online tutorials. Margaret is also a keen Pinterest user – with almost 1,000 people following her. She loves Twitter too, but Instagram is her favourite social media channel.

On top of embracing technology to promote her chosen craft, she actively campaigns for survivors of mesh implant complications through the online support group “Mesh Survivors Ireland”, of which she is a co-founder. The group has grown to 250 survivors and has provided help to those suffering through meetups and support groups.

Margaret uses Facebook, Twitter and email to reach out to younger generations who represent their older parents online, and who are suffers of mesh implant complications. Because of her online campaigning, Minister Simon Harris has agreed to carry out an investigation on the matter.

Truly inspirational people

“We are proud to celebrate today some truly inspirational people," said John C, CEO of Age Action. "These Silver Surfers are challenging ageist stereotypes that the internet, social media and new technologies are only for young people.

"They’re not just doing so to improve their own lives but, in many cases, to assist their neighbours, support their communities and reach out to people who need help.

We hope they will inspire thousands more like them to dust off the laptop or tablet sitting at home and get online. There is an entire world of information and entertainment waiting for them. 

"And who knows, maybe some of those inspired by this year’s Silver Surfers will be joining us at next year’s awards.”

“Today’s winners are a fantastic example of what can be achieved by embracing technology," said Carolan L, CEO of eir. "We are delighted to support an initiative that celebrates older people and those who support them.

"The awards are a fantastic opportunity to shine a light on some of the remarkable ways that older people are taking advantage of the possibilities that connectivity offers. 

"The variety of online activities celebrated today includes the adoption of technology into everyday life, building online communities and even piloting a flight simulator!

"Our Silver Surfers are ambassadors for a digital landscape and reinforce our belief that everyone should have access to a best in class broadband and mobile network.”

David Rowe from Dublin and Gordon Lawson from Cork won in our Community Champion and Golden IT categories
David R from Dublin and Gordon L from Cork won in our Community Champion and Golden IT categories
Sense of independence

Minister Daly highlighted the benefits of older people engaging with technology, saying: “Developing technological skills is a great benefit as it can help nourish a sense of independence and in turn give older people increased confidence that they can take forward into all the other aspects of their lives.”

Minister Daly also congratulated all the open eir Silver Surfer award winners and nominees, noting that Age Action’s Getting Started Computer Training Programme, along with eir’s commitment to provide the best mobile and broadband network to every household and business across Ireland, is instrumental in helping older people experience the benefits that technology can bring to their everyday lives. 

Full list of winners

1.     The Getting Started IT Award went to Tom L from Renmore, Galway. Despite his visual impairment, Tom has embraced technology across various devices and platforms.

He now listens to audiobooks with Audible, converts printed text to speech or braille with KNFB reader, connects with sighted volunteers for visual assistance on Be My Eyes and uses blindness-aware GPS navigation platforms to go about his day.

Tom also encourages those with visual impairments to become digitally apt and assists them with their devices and apps.

2.     Golden IT Award winner and retired RAF Pilot Gordon L from Carrigtwohill in Co. Cork became interested in technology in his 80s as he was determined to not fall behind on the times.

Now aged 99, Gordon uses the internet to stay in touch with friends, download music, bank online, deliver meals on wheels and write up the minutes of meetings in his role as secretary at the JW congregation in Carrigtwohill.

Most importantly, he enjoys reliving his flying days by piloting flight simulators! Gordon’s enthusiasm for technology goes hand in hand with his enthusiasm for using it to help others.

3.     The Community Champion Award was presented to David R from Sandyford in Dublin. David uses technology to observe planning applications for An Taisce, and frequently makes comprehensive, online, submissions on the Dun Laoghaire County Development Plan. At 98, David doesn’t shy away from using technology to make his voice heard and often contacts policy makers with detailed maps and suggestions.

He contributes to the community magazine Three Rock Panorma, using his computer to author articles and design covers, and has edited eight books since his retirement. David also uses IT in a number of voluntary organisations.

4.     At 76, Mary D is a role model for her friends at the Ardee Active Retirement Group, which now boasts of 80% internet usage amongst members. Mary is the driving force behind this uptake since learning how to use a computer in her late 60s.

She books adventures online for her fellow pensioners throughout Ireland and across Europe and uses Pinterest to get inspiration for decorating her local church. She has set up a WhatsApp group to stay in touch with her six children and 16 grandchildren and has been known to give out tips for the Galway Races using the BetFinder app.

Mary is an active promoter of internet safety and seeks to alleviate fears held by some older people around using the internet. For these reasons Mary has won the IT Enthusiast Award.

5.     Marie H from Birdhill in Tipperary was the winner of the IT Tutor of the Year Award, which recognises the efforts of the hundreds of people across Ireland who volunteer with Age Action’s computer training programme, Getting Started.

Since 2009 Marie has facilitated numerous training courses and one-to-one sessions and has fundraised to provide computers and computer equipment for the Milford Day Care Centre for the Older Adult. Marie has been working with one resident for the past three years who has faced many health obstacles.

Thanks to Marie’s weekly tutoring this resident has a new found sense of independence through technology, as she communicates with her family and catches up on her favourite shows on the RTE player. 

6.     Dominican College Griffith Avenue, Dublin was presented with the Schools Tutor of the Year Award. This is the first time in the history of the awards that a separate schools category has been included.

The Dominican College has been tutoring older people since 2014 and in that time the school’s pupils and staff have gone above and beyond to help their older learners embrace the benefits of technology.

7.     VW Ware from Cork was awarded the Corporate IT Tutor of the Year Award. Since its first class in 2014, VM Ware has given over 1,500 hours of volunteering to the Age Action Getting Started programme and their team of volunteers have made a huge contribution to changing the lives of older people in their local community.

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