Assisting older people in Strathaven and Stonehouse to improve and enhance their digital skills Lightburn Elderly Association Project

Lightburn Elderly Association Project

Charity registered in Scotland SC024196

L.E.A.P. was established in 1992 as an adult education and leisure project for people aged 50 years plus. Established by a group of like minded older people, now in its 25th year L.E.A.P.'s objective has consistently been to promote activities and facilities in the terms of social welfare, recreation and leisure to contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of older people in South Lanarkshire.
The project is volunteer led supported by a small core of substantive staff and has evolved over the years and today not only continues to provide its core education and leisure project, but has also successfully provided a befriending and handy person project for the past 16 years and more recently the R:evolve project an inter-generational education and upcycling project.
Today the organisation covers 9 communities within South Lanarkshire and proudly holds the Queen's Award for Voluntary Services, Investors in Volunteers and Quality in Befriending.

  • From 3rd April 2017 to 31st March 2018
  • Award: £9,752 via Call 4
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Project plan

Project description

This project seeks to develop a range of digital classes for older people in the rural communities of Strathaven and Stonehouse. Following the successful introduction of a befriending and handy person service two years ago, and following a brief pilot in 2016, they have identified a need for the delivery of a range basic digital skills classes to include, smartphones, tablets, basic computing skills, laptop use. Three digital classes in the community will be delivered each week - 4 x 10 week sessions in a year. Staff and volunteers, as part of their initial induction and ongoing training, will be supported in the use of digital technology and given the knowledge on how to access services such as health, social care, pensions which they can pass on to all clients, their families and carers. Volunteers will be developed as digital champions locally; they will continue to assist older people and, with the support of the organisation and collaboration with key stakeholders, further enhance digital education and access for the community.

Project milestones

Phase 1

secure venue for clases

Phase 2

Secure tutors for classes

Phase 3

secure participants for classes through raising awareness and promotion

Phase 4

commence first classes

Evaluation

Updates

The project has now reached the end of its years' funding. It has continued to go well with positive feedback from participants. We continued to deliver classes which attendees could bring any device to as it means that they can come along with their friends regardless of what device they use. We delivered four two hour classes a week from November 2017 to the end of March 2018, with a short break over the Christmas period. The focus was also on the social side of the classes, with people being encouraged to attend and learn in an informal environment over a cuppa and cake. The class in one of the sheltered housing complex continued to run well with a mix of people who live in the complex and some from outwith. The evaluation we undertook at the end of March included feedback such as:
Keep going - there is so much to learn, and so much depth in even a small iPad.
Would like another class!
Please run another one!
Most enjoyable class. Very nice tutor.

Between July - October 2017 we ran 39 sessions in total, made up of 2 hours each. In turn, this was made up of 5 different groups, 2 of which were run in local sheltered housing complexes in response to demand. We have run these as generic computer classes this time, where people can bring any device whether this is an android tablet or phone, iPad or laptop. We found with our previous block of sessions that people often sign up with one of their friends but they don't always have the same type of device. Making the groups generic technology classes has removed this barrier for people and has made it easier for some to attend. We also continue to focus strongly on the social side of the sessions, encouraging people to have a cuppa and make new friends while they learn. We continued to promote these activities with articles in the local press, as well as a poster drive and raising awareness through people involved in our existing projects and previous attendees. We also use social media as often family members will see the activities advertised and pass the information on to relatives.

LEAP ran a series of IT classes for over 50s in the rural areas of Strathaven and Stonehouse from April 2017 until the end of March 2018. We offered generic classes so that people could bring any device and in so doing attend with their friends, as we found that people often signed up together. We focused on the social aspect of the activity so that people were interacting and supporting one another, as well as having tuition from an IT tutor. Towards the end of the project, we were offering 5 classes a week in a mixture of community venues, churches and sheltered housing complexes in response to demand. We managed to sustain the project for a short time post-funding and also ran 2 classes a week (one in each area) from April-June 2018.

Between the beginning of May and the end of June 2017, we ran 8 weeks of 2 hour IT classes for older people entitled 'IT and cake'. We ran a smartphone class and 2 android tablet classes. We promoted these activities throughout April 2017 with articles in the local press, as well as a poster drive and raising awareness through people involved in our existing handy person and befriending service. The focus was very much on the social element of the classes to encourage people to attend. We used community venues which are more easily accessible for older people, as well as beginning to develop IT focused activities in sheltered housing complexes. Some older people can be reluctant to purchase any equipment such as tablets or smartphones themselves, and so we have given them the opportunity to come along and try out devices to see what they think first. We have employed a tutor to run the classes who lives locally and is well known in the area. Classes are very informal and focus on the needs of participants and their reasons for wanting to get online. We undertook a short evaluation at the end of the first block of classes which was very positive, with most people saying that they liked the informal nature of the classes and that they appreciated the tutor's patience!

Our digital work is delivered in partnership with: