Barbara and Jeanette

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

Fast forward and they now have 14 volunteers. One of the first to respond was Jeanette Power Jepson who had previously attended Tea and Tech at the Hope Foundation.
“Given that Ageing Better Middlesbrough has helped me achieve certain goals, I felt like I wanted to help others who were in my position.

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 talking.”

For many ABM members, becoming part of the digital world is daunting and providing digital support during the Covid pandemic has been even more challenging for the team, but also really important:
“Giving information and digital support for people who had to stay home was vital. Many of them are worried, which only heightens their fear of having to use technology. It’s a domino effect…

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

73-year-old Barbara Gibbon is just one of the people who has benefitted from Ageing Better Middlesbrough’s digital volunteer initiative. 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.

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… I 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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