Project #10940

Help older people learn basic IT skills

by Age Action Ireland

Open eir has announced its sponsorship of the Silver Surfer Awards as part of a two-year partnership with Age Action. Now in its eighth year, the Awards celebrate and recognise the achievements of older people using technology and the Internet as well as the volunteers who teach these skills.

Baz and his wonderful Mum, Nancy at the launch of Silver Surfer Awards with Eamon from Age Action and Carolan from open eir.

The five categories for the 2017 open eir Silver Surfer Awards are:

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.

Golden IT Award - An individual over the age of 80 who uses technology to enhance their life.

Silver Surfer Award - An older person who embraces the Internet or technology with a sense of fun and adventure.

IT Tutor(s) of the Year Award - An individual or group who provides voluntary support to older learners.

Nominate someone you know!

The closing date for entry is Friday, 17 February 2017 and you make your nomination online.The awards ceremony takes place in eir’s Head Office, 1HSQ, on Tuesday, 28 March 2017.

Carolan L, Managing Director, open eir said, “We are on a mission to not only get Ireland connected but to get Ireland maximising the benefits of high speed broadband. Our rural high-speed rollout programme is giving more Silver Surfers in communities across the country the ability to access high-speed broadband keeping families and friends connected no matter where they live or work. 

"We are delighted to work with Age Action by sponsoring the Silver Surfer awards. The Internet opens up a whole new world to users and we want to recognise, celebrate and reward all of the great things our Silver Surfers are doing.

"If you are a Silver Surfer or if you have a family member or friend who is using the Internet as part of their daily lives then please log onto the Age Action website and fill out the nomination form. By doing so you’re highlighting the benefits of surfing online to older people throughout Ireland.”

Eamon T, Chief Executive, Age Action, said, “The open eir Silver Surfer Awards is all about driving home the benefit of being online to older people with the aim of getting more people to give it a go!  It is hard to believe but almost one in five adults have never used the internet – that is more than 550,000 people in Ireland!  The majority of these are older people with 53% (280,000) of these aged 60 to 74 never having been online.  Only 3% of those aged 75 and over have used the internet.

“We’re delighted that open eir has come on board to support the awards. Open eir is working hard to bring broadband to communities across Ireland and every day they extend their network to include more and more rural communities which in turn has a positive impact on our members lives.

"Not only are they facilitating access to high-speed broadband but they are also working closely with the Age Action team to ensure that our Silver Surfers know how to make the most of the exciting opportunities available online.”

Summer can be a quiet time sometimes for the Getting Started Programme with both older learners and volunteer tutors being busy and taking holidays but this year, we had several classes and workshops running up to the end of July. We took a small reprieve in August to regroup and make plans for classes to continue from September to December.

In Dublin, we ran classes at Trinity College, Inchicore, Stillorgan, Ballyroan and Camden Street. We ran a very successful iPad workshop at our offices at Inchicore which was a great success with many of our older learners coming back for our September iPad workshop. 

Cork was extremely busy with a "tutor the tutors" session being held with 20 volunteers attending. Our Youthreach classes continued in Bandon and with our corporate partner at EMC

Plans are in place to extend classes in our Galway region from September onwards with lots of planning work going on over the summer months.

Age Action has held a Positive Ageing Week for the last fourteen years and this year is no different with our PAW Week running from 26th September to 2nd October. Please see link below for a list of events that will be running nationwide.

We continue to get wonderful positive feedback from our learners such as the email below which highlights how much our programme means to older people.  

Hello Jennifer,

I recently enjoyed a beginners computer course in Stillorgan library.

I would be very interested in improving my skills if and when an opportunity arises.

I imagine that many old folks like myself would love the interest of keeping themselves informed, helping our minds and our memories and getting out of the house, meeting new people, too.

We can be too frail in various ways for long drives and also too nervous to go too far ,e.g. town, and that is the advantage of places like local libraries or community centres-- that feeling of security, freedom and achievement all at the same time. Because of our frailties many I am sure would therfore , at least I would, and of course I can only speak for myself, rather avoid formal classes but at the same time be genuinely eager to learn or brush up on anything other than domesticity.

During the few weeks of classes, I, for one, felt livelier coming home than i did going down.

The long dreary winter lies ahead. I dread it and would love to have a class to attend.

Very many thanks and best wishes.




We hear many inspirational stories from our learners about how learning to use a computer has changed their lives and recently their stories were featured on the Sean O’Rourke radio show.

It featured 91 year old John who attended a Getting Started class in Kinsale and also stories from our tutors and other learners.

John wanted to learn to use the computer to keep in touch with his cousin in South Africa who is 94 and his friend in Canada who is 98. It also allows him to keep in touch with his daughters once of whom lives in Spain. He is a true inspiration to others and shows that age is no barrier to learning.

To hear the item click on the link below



Our goal is to promote digital inclusion and positive ageing by providing opportunities for all older people to learn about and use technology. The programme was designed with the challenges and barriers experienced by older learners in mind such as older people’s fear of technology or feeling they are too old to learn. We have created a supportive learning environment that is sociable, relaxed and informal so that older learners do not feel intimidated by technology. Training materials has been developed specifically for older learners, with flexibility engrained and content tailored to suit the pace of each individual learner. Each person may require different levels of support, encouragement and practice so the one-to-one tuition supports this approach and allows learners to access information online that is of particular interest to them. This has proved very successful in engaging older people with the online world at classes in their local community. We ask our learners to complete an evaluaiton form at the end of the course and we get some fantastic feedback from them as to the difference it makes to their lives. It help them to feel less isolated, more confident and connected to the modern digital age. 



Margaret Mullett
Margaret Mullett

For the past 7 years Age Action's Silver Surfer Awards has been raising awareness among older people of the benefits of being online and to encourage those who have not gone online to give it a try. 

The awards recognise the achievements of older people using technology and also the volunteers who teach these skills.  Retired science and chemistry teacher Margaret Mullett from Dublin was this year's winner of the overall Silver Surfer Award 2015.

Margaret was inspired to get online after she lost her husband, George, to a genetic disorder called haemochromatosis, an overload of iron in the system, just six weeks after being diagnosed. If identified early enough, haemochromatosis can be easily treated. Determined to ensure that no other family would suffer a loss like her own, Margaret used the internet and digital media to build a national awareness campaign, highlighting the dangers of haemochromatosis and urging members of the public to get tested. Since she began in 2005, her work has focused new attention on the illness and more than 20,000 people have been diagnosed.

Corkman Philip O’Donovan was the winner of the Golden IT Award, which recognises the achievements of people over the age of 80. Every morning, at 7.30am more than a 100 people in Ireland, the United States, Australia, the Netherlands and Britain wake to a ‘thought for the day’ email message from Philip. He has also used his computer to write a book about a local specialist school for children with complex disabilities, the Lavanagh Centre, and still does the taxes for family members and his local church.

The awards ceremony was hosted by Dublin City University, which became the first age-friendly university in 2012, leading a global initiative.

Thanks for your support which allows us to run computer classes for older people and run events like this which encourages older people to go online for the first time. Being able to use the internet can have a very positive impact in the lives of older people, giving independence, opening up a whole new world of information, entertainment and communication with family and friends. It can combat isolation and loneliness and transform people’s lives

To read more about the other winners see the link below 



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Organization Information

Age Action Ireland

Location: Dublin - Ireland
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jennifer Glansford
Dublin, Dublin Ireland

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