THE INTERNET IS FOR EVERYONE
The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, tweeted at the 2012 London Olympics, “This is for everyone.”. Well, we at Silver City Surfers believe the Internet is for everyone too. We do our best to help older people in Aberdeen & the North East of Scotland to get online and gain basic computer skills. Our philosophy aims to help and support older people to use modern technologies to connect to their loved ones and the World Wide Web, thus combating loneliness and isolation. These new skills can help keep older people stimulated and independent in today’s digital world.
Beginning in 2005, the charity, Silver City Surfers, has moved forward teaching computer and internet skills from desktops to laptops to tablets. The core strength of The Surfers is our dedicated and talented volunteers, both hospitality and tutors. Without these special people sharing their knowledge and expertise with others in a couthy manner, so many would still be excluded from the freedom of the Internet and valuable online interactions.
Silver City Surfers run five weekly Internet cafes across the city where older people can drop in and receive one-to-one tuition on whatever aspect of technology they wish. These are free sessions. Learning these new skills is driven by the learner, at the learner’s pace. Making their visit a social affair is equally as important as teaching and so, we serve some great refreshments after their tutor session where they can sit round the table, natter away and make new friends. We are very lucky that our hospitality volunteers are not only sociable but incredible bakers! We can report, the Great British Bake Off is alive and well and in full swing at Silver City Surfers!
Two of our weekly sessions are outreach sessions in Seaton and Northfield. It is always heartening to see how well these sessions are appreciated by the learners in these communities. Once a month we hold a very popular motivational talk at Aberdeen Science Centre (Satrosphere) in Aberdeen. These talks cover basics on different aspects of computing and the Internet. They offer a perfect introduction to technology for many older people. Attendees are often inspired to go further with their learning, which is exactly what we want them to do. How inspiring these talks are was beautifully demonstrated by the story of one reluctant learner, Pam. Pam happened to accompany her friend to one of these talks. At the end, she asked if she could learn how to use an iPad with us. She had firmly rejected an iPad from her family, living in the States, a few months earlier, insisting she had no need for it. Things certainly changed quickly for Pam - she went from ‘zero to hero’ on an iPad in a very short space of time and now loves it! She has entered the world of Facebook recently and still comes to us for iPad tips and tricks. We also work on a highly successful intergenerational project wherein we facilitate technology and Internet learning between younger and older people within local primary and secondary schools, encouraging a cohesive community spirit.
Being a charity, fundraising is obviously very important to us, and Silver City Surfers has to strive to ensure we can support our activities. Funding comes from a variety of sources including local government organisations, individuals, local businesses to our volunteers running a charity shop for a week every year. The majority of our funding currently comes from the Fairer Aberdeen Fund.
The term ‘digital inclusion’ is bandied about a lot these days and everyone at Silver City Surfers is proud that we are doing something positive about that. Berners-Lee still works hard ensuring that the web is accessible to all and so do we.