Meet Mike. Mike Lennard is our volunteer coordinator for the Wilton and Tisbury community areas. Although Mike is now retired, he’s worked in the IT industry for over 40 years and also volunteers at Salisbury Hospital’s Spinal Injuries Unit. With a strong interest in assistive technology, Mike was looking for further opportunities to utilise his IT skills. Fortunately, he spotted our advert on Wiltshire Council’s jobsite and applied to become a volunteer coordinator in September 2012.
Mike now heads up a small team of digital champion volunteers and has recently been involved in recruiting others to join his team. His role includes matching learners from his local community to a digital champion for one-to-one computer support, but Mike is also very much hands-on and undertakes some of this support work himself. So far his oldest learner is 91 years of age, proving you’re never too old to learn new skills!
Mike receives lots of different requests for help, the most common being social networking, organising the computer (saving files and being able to find them again!), plus Skype and emails. One of Mike’s favourite sites is LinkedIn which he finds especially useful for people who want to connect with others who share the same interests. For example, one of Mike’s recent learners is a lady who makes pottery. When Mike showed her how to use LinkedIn she couldn’t believe the amount of people she found who shared her passion!
The role of the volunteer coordinator is incredibly varied. For example, Mike has also been instrumental in setting up some regular digital literacy support at the Thursday Club in Wilton. The club has an active membership of around 40 older people who meet every Thursday in the local community centre. Here, they might buy produce from a farm shop, listen to guest speakers, have a spot of lunch or now, thanks to Mike, get online with their laptops. Digital literacy made fun!
As well as providing this tailored support, another very important aspect of Mike’s role is about communicating the benefits of being online and encouraging those more reluctant learners to give it a try. As such, Mike has been heavily involved with attending parish council meetings to spread the word about digital literacy and the services Wiltshire Council offers. So enthused have some of the parishes been, one village – Broad Chalke – has turned their community shop into an internet hub. Being able to get others excited about the potential of expanding access to computers is one aspect of the role that Mike finds very rewarding.
Mike has written several articles for his local paper spreading the digital literacy message and encouraging others to either volunteer themselves or help identify residents who would benefit from support. In fact, always eager to promote the work of the Wiltshire Online project, Mike is keen to make contact with a range of local groups and organisations in the Tisbury and Wilton areas. If you are a member of such a group, whether that’s a gardening club, knitting circle or any other type of social club, please contact us. Mike is always willing to come and talk to people about digital literacy, the benefits of being online and the support we can offer.
So what does Mike enjoy about being a volunteer coordinator? Well, meeting a wide range of people from all different backgrounds and with differing interests is something he finds fascinating. Opening up the wonders of the internet, and teaching others to do relatively simple tasks (to some) such as download or attach photos to emails so that they can keep in touch with family and friends he finds extremely rewarding. It has also helped to bring back forgotten skills and satisfy Mike’s desire to keep abreast with current technology in order to provide the best support possible.
If you or someone you know would benefit from receiving some free computer support then please give us a call on 01225 793349 to see how we can help.