Proof that it’s never too late to be gripped by the worldwide web

AGE OF LEARNING: Silver-surfer Tina Gibson (second left) receives the Gold Award from Janice Hutchison of Age UK and Katy Benjafield who was one of the volunteer tutors on the project to teach old folk new digital skills.
AGE OF LEARNING: Silver-surfer Tina Gibson (second left) receives the Gold Award from Janice Hutchison of Age UK and Katy Benjafield who was one of the volunteer tutors on the project to teach old folk new digital skills.
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SILVER-SURFERS are on a high after bridging the generation gap and developing their digital skills.

Residents of Langholme Court, in East Boldon, have proven themselves determined to keep up with the times and learn about new technologies.

A group of pensioners has now been presented with a gold award from retirement housing provider Hanover.

They were one of four estates to be nominated out of 17 across the country, after working on the project with Age UK South Tyneside.

Residents attended weekly classes and received one-to-one support from students to learn new skills and familiarise themselves with modern technology.

Katie Benjafield, 18, one of the young volunteers supporting the project, said: “It was pretty difficult at first to teach older people and some things were harder to teach, like email, but it got easier after the first week.

“Some people were very good at learning and have become more independent and quicker at using the email to get things done.

“I really enjoyed the experience. Most of my friends have helped too now.”

Pupil Tina Gibson, 81, said: “It was great. I found it very interesting and Katie was a great help.

“I can now use email, which I couldn’t do before, shop online for my groceries, research my family tree and look for holidays.

“I would recommend it to anyone. It keeps your brain active and gives you independence.”

Ruth Arnott, engagement officer from Hanover, said: “Whether residents are keen to download their favourite music on their iPod or simply wish to tune into digital TV, this fantastic initiative just goes to show it’s never too late to improve your digital skills.”

John Briers, chief executive of Age UK South Tyneside, said: “The digital inclusion project supports older people to engage in the digital agenda so they play an active role in their local community.

“Older people are often excluded from keeping in touch with today’s society, with many organisations choosing to use e-mail and websites as a main form of communication.

“Getting to grips with technology can help older people to remain independent, live in their own home for longer, save money and ensure their lives are as diverse and media rich as younger people’s.”

Twitter: @Sunderlandecho