Conwy silver surfers click into action

A housing association has launched a campaign to transform their older tenants into silver surfers.

Dozens of Cartrefi Conwy tenants attended the free Computers for Beginners workshop at the Kinmel Manor Hotel in Abergele.

Cartrefi Conwy Community Involvement Co-ordinator Vicky Kelly explained the event had been organised in response to requests from tenants.

It was, she said, becoming increasingly important for tenants to be computer literate as so many forms now needed to be filled online.

She said: “While the day is all about our elderly tenants having a bit of fun and getting the chance to socialise we wanted to ensure they have as much information as we can pass on.

“By including lessons in accessing the internet and how to use computers we are giving our more senior tenants the opportunity to save money and perhaps, keep in touch with relatives.

“So much is done on-line now it’s important tenants have access to as many services and as much information as possible.”

Run by Digital Inclusion Project coordinator Jen Bailey, the computer workshops gave elderly tenants an introduction to the internet and Skype so they could learn how to keep in touch with family and friends.

Jen said: “As part of a digital inclusion project called Take CTRL, which is supported by Cartrefi Conwy and a number of other North Wales associations, we are introducing older people to the wonders of the internet and how they can use computers to save money.

“For example, by showing tenants how to use supermarket comparison sites they can shop around from the comfort of their own homes and, in the long term, save money by finding the cheapest place to shop.

“Equally that applies to insurance companies, energy suppliers and all manner of other services. And by showing tenants how Skype works they can perhaps stay in contact with relatives who live a distance away.”

Myra Jones, 72, a tenant of The Fron, Old Colwyn found the computer lessons really worthwhile.

She said: “I do have a computer and use it for e-mails and such like. However, I had no idea how to use comparison sites to save money on shopping, insurance and energy bills. It’s something I will definitely look at doing.

“And using Skype could well be a great way to keep in touch with family and friends who don’t live locally.”

Ruth Kyffin, 80, a tenant of Pentre Newydd, Conwy, enjoyed the computer workshop and was amazed how much money she could save through comparison sites.

She said: “It has been very interesting although I’m not sure I would have a computer at home. I had no idea you could compare supermarket prices or save money on your house insurance by searching for the cheapest deals on a computer. It definitely makes sense.”

Health and Social Care students from Coleg Llandrillo helped out by acting as mentors for tenants guiding them around computer keyboards.

According to Coleg Llandrillo tutor Davina Jones, her students gained a great deal from the experience.

She said: “It’s all about building confidence and engaging with older tenants and helping them overcome any fears of using technology.

“I know our students have learnt a great deal from helping tenants and passing on a few computer skills of their own.”

Coleg Llandrillo student Abbi Thomas, 16, of Abergele, assisted tenant Myra Jones find her way around cyber-space and said she had really enjoyed the experience.

She said: “It’s been great and has helped me appreciate and understand older people. I have certainly enjoyed helping Myra find and use comparison websites which may help her save a few pounds.”

Student Lia Murphy, 17, of Rhyl, showed tenant Ruth Kyffin around a computer keyboard and said the event had proved very worthwhile.

She said: “I have really enjoyed it. It made me realise we take computers and the internet for granted whereas older people perhaps don’t have that confidence.

“If by showing Ruth what she can do with a computer has helped her that has to be a good thing.”

Cartrefi Conwy Chief Executive, Andrew Bowden, says the event had been a complete success.

He said: “Those that are digitally excluded, and they tend to be older people, are really missing out.

“Simple things like online shopping for example. The delivery charge can often be substantially less than the cost of a taxi so it has to be beneficial for some tenants.

“And of course using the internet to compare prices and as a result save money has to be a worthwhile exercise. The whole day has been excellent and I know tenants have appreciated the talks and workshops as much as the chance to socialise and have fun.”

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