Giving and receiving digital help

How one of our members helped another through their online journey.

At the beginning of the lockdown period, we asked for volunteers to help provide technical support over the phone for older people in our area.  

Fast forward 4 months and we now have 14 individuals giving up their time to help support people who face challenges with their technology.  

One of these people is Jeanette Power Jepson who – prior to helping with the initiative – attended tech support sessions at the Hope Foundation. (Hosted by our Digital Inclusion Officer, David Thomas)  

Jeanette Power Jepson

When we called out for people to help, she was one of the first to respond.  

“Given that Ageing Better Middlesbrough has helped me achieve certain goals, I felt like I wanted to help others who were in my position. She said.  

“David initially taught me how to shop online, use WhatsApp, surf the web, and generally become more up to speed with my device, so I really felt like I could help those who needed it. 

“The framework they provided was great too. It was very well structured, and I knew I was in a good position to pick up the phone and begin taking.” 

For many of our members, becoming part of the digital world is daunting.  

We have spent the last five years supporting older people to learn how to use digital devices and get online, including holding ‘Tea and Technology’ sessions, providing one to one support and other group activity. We know there are many barriers for people to get online.  

Providing this digital support during the Covid pandemic has been even more challenging, but also really important – to help people connect with their families or do their shopping. This sentiment is echoed by Jeanette.  

“Giving information and digital support for people who had to stay home was vital. She said.  

“Many of them are worried, which only heightens their fear of having to use technology. It’s a domino effect.  

“The trick to calling someone and helping them through their issues is – be calm. It must be taken step by step because it’s exactly like learning another language for some people. It can’t be done overnight.  

“I’ve helped people with doctor’s appointments, downloading games, WhatsApp, sending photos and emails, video calling and lots more.  

“Once these steps are complete, you feel a huge sense of pride. Their reaction over the phone (when they complete various tasks), is fantastic.”  

Barbara Gibbon’s story – receiving digital help

73-year-old Barbara Gibbon is just one of the people who has benefitted from our digital volunteer initiative.  

Barbara Gibbon

She has received help from Jeanette (above) over the last few months and believes she has come on leaps and bounds.  

“Initially I got a call from Ageing Better Middlesbrough’s Befriending Service to see how I was. I happened to mention that I struggled with technology during the call. She said.  

Their Digital Inclusion Officer, David, gave me help with online shopping, and after that, Jeanette has helped me with lots of other things. 

“To my amazement, I was able to send photos to my granddaughter who lives in Manchester… even video called her! I think she was just as surprised as me when she saw the phone ringing.  

“I’m hoping to learn a lot more from Jeanette in the future, she’s been a saviour for me over the last couple of months. I’m also going to meet the team in person to thank them, and hopefully attend ‘Tea and Technology’ sessions 

“The fact that Ageing Better Middlesbrough are providing an outlet like this is brilliant. I really appreciate their efforts.  

It’s given me a new lease of life and I’d be completely stuck without them. My daughter is less worried knowing I can video call her now too.” 


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