Each month, we will be featuring a different charity or other non-profit organisation that relies on the help of volunteers. In their words, you will hear what these organistions do and the difference volunteers make to them.

This month, we hear from AbilityNet. Read all about them below. If you would like to volunteer with AbilityNet, contact Chris on 07388 431444 or email v.scotland@abilitynet.org.uk.

 


Who do you help and in what way?

AbilityNet empowers older and disabled people to use technology to achieve their goals at home, and work and in education. We do this in a number of ways.

For individuals, we provide free information resources and support. You can call our free advice and information line on 0800 269 545 for advice on technology and disability. Other resources include access to free factsheets on topics from autism and computers to voice recognition. You can find advice on how to adapt your technology to your needs for a range of operating systems, and devices.

You can also book for a disclosure checked technology volunteer to visit you in your home and offer one-to-one support.

We also believe that websites should be accessible to everyone. Our team of accessibility consultants and testers who work with digital teams in blue-chip companies such as Barclays, Lloyds Bank The FA and Microsoft to design and maintain accessible websites and apps

What difference do volunteers make to your organisation?

Technology is such an enabler, it can help people to gain or regain their independence, for example, by allowing them to shop or bank online. It can prevent isolation, as the internet can connect people via email, Skype or Facetime to family and friends. It also provides something fun and relaxing to do with online games, TV, radio and other entertainment services. When something goes wrong with a person’s technology suddenly all of this is taken away.

Our network of 300 volunteers helps them to get it back.

Volunteers use their IT skills to help them in all sorts of ways – from showing them how to shop online, to setting up an email account, from helping an older person with their general PC usage, to assisting with special hardware and software adaptations that would meet a disabled person’s specific needs.

What volunteers do you need at the moment?

Volunteers trouble shoot technical issues, and offer impartial advice on technology. They might be setting someone up to use Skype to connect with family, adding a printer, setting up a new tablet and connecting it to the internet, or helping to support a disabled person’s specific needs. We’re not looking for tech gurus (https://abilitynet.org.uk/at-home/join-our-volunteers.) If people use a computer at home or work, and perhaps support family and friends with their tech issues, they are likely to have the skills we need..

And what benefits can they expect?

In return volunteers can change the lives of disabled and older people. We offer technology and disability training and the chance to network with a nationwide team of other IT volunteers. It’s a rewarding role, and you can read first-hand what AbilityNet volunteer Chris Grant gets out of volunteering for us in our interview online (https://abilitynet.org.uk/news-blogs/volunteering-your-it-skills-help-others).

If no-one volunteered, where would you be?

The simple answer is “nowhere”! Volunteers are the heart of our charity. They give up their spare time, and use their tech expertise, to ensure older and disabled people are digitally included rather than excluded, and it really makes a difference.

“One of your advisors, Trevor, has been helping me with some very basic computer skills on a tablet that I have hardly touched since it was bought for me as a present from my wife. I suffer from Parkinson’s and it is very difficult for me to concentrate. Trevor has been extremely kind and patient and has opened up a world I hardly knew existed.”

 


T H A N K   Y O U

Thank you for looking into volunteering. As a charity, we know and see the difference you can make every day. From helping those facing difficulty or hardship to being a force for change in society. We hope you find it worthwhile and benefit in some way also. Around 1 in 4 adults in Dundee volunteer.