“Who said you couldn’t show an old dog how to do new tricks?”

At various locations throughout Edinburgh and West Lothian, groups people over the age of 50, are honing their computer skills, in particular the applications of the internet, at a series of unique drop-in computer clubs.  Margot Stewart from Third Age Computer Fun reports.

Third Age Computer Fun Musselburgh club

Third Age Computer Fun Musselburgh club

At Third Age Computer Fun, we believe that technology can help to significantly enhance people’s lives. More and more routine daily tasks such as shopping, banking and ordering prescriptions, not to mention to keeping in touch with friends and family, have become “digital” thereby forcing people to become increasingly reliant on technology.

“What I have learned has really improved my computer skills and made a positive impact on my life.” – Jill

Third Age Computer Fun is a charity which runs friendly, informal weekly 2-hour drop-in sessions at a very low cost, with initial taster sessions on offer free of charge. Unlike more formal courses, at these clubs everyone can concentrate on only whatever they wish to learn and work at their own pace – whether they use, or wish to start using, a laptop, tablet, ipad or even a smart phone. Devices (laptops and ipads) are supplied at the clubs for those people not possessing their own.

Some of our members had never performed even the most basic of tasks, such as sending an email or surfing the net, when they first joined their club, whilst others had and required slightly more specialised help with programmes, applications and devices.

“Although I had worked with computers for 25 years, I did not have a clue how to use my new laptop for myself! When the opportunity arose I started with Third Age Computer Fun and have thoroughly enjoyed the learning opportunity and possibilities opened up, as well as the social element of the clubs.” – George

Everyone gets friendly support and advice from the club’s well-qualified and very patient volunteers, and enjoy sharing the fun, pride (and occasional frustrations!) of becoming IT literate in the digital era over a cup of tea or coffee in a relaxed environment.

Third Age Computing

Third Age Computing’s longest-standing volunteer and Saltire award recipient Jacob on his last day before leaving us to head to college.

“There is a very good atmosphere when we all meet at Cargo and this, in my view, sets the tone for learning. Regardless of our stage of learning, none of us are made to feel foolish.”- Jill

Our dedicated, patient and caring staff aim to empathise with people and take great pride in assisting our mature learners to overcome their initial fears to become familiar, comfortable and confident with their technology of choice in the digital era.

“I am 71 years old (or young) – “who cares”.  I thought I was too old to learn about computers and scared in case I made a fool of myself. All of the instructors have given their time and patience so that I now have the opportunity to tell you that you can learn as I do (or thought I couldn’t do). This has given me, and can also give you, a confidence in yourself to learn. Who said you couldn’t show an old dog how to do new tricks? This is not true.” – Alfie

This is based entirely around flexibility and the understanding that different people have different learning requirements – some people pick things up very quickly, whilst others require a little more time.   Our aim is to assess a person’s needs as an individual an then  focus on what they wish to learn and  take it at their own pace, thereby creating a more relaxed and enjoyable learning environment.

More information is available by calling 0131 346 1179, by emailing info@thirdagecf.org.uk or visiting our website at www.thirdagecf.org.uk In addition to welcoming new members, the organisation is currently looking to recruit IT volunteers.

Finally, over and above the clubs, we offer home visits with one-to-one tuition for disabled and/or housebound elderly people.

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