When we look at the world around us, technology’s influence over individuals is quite incalculable. Business meetings take place over Zoom, bank accounts are accessed from our smartphones, and it is likely that those under the age of 12 do not know the concept of chalk and a blackboard, with most classrooms using interactive whiteboards. Yes this is the generation of tech but what about those who are not tech savvy?
It is fair to say technology can be incredibly daunting for some of our older relatives. We all no doubt have had experiences when we have struggled to explain to our grandparents or parents how to send an email or take a photo with their smartphone but as long as we were there, it gave them comfort. However, the restrictions imposed by the Government in response to the spread of Covid-19 asked those over 65 years to cocoon and family members to keep their distance. This resulted in many who were not familiar with technology feeling isolated.
However, help is only a phone call away thanks to volunteer organisation Covid19 Tech Help. Founded by John Harrington who realised the demand for such a service after helping his mother with an IT issue over the phone at the beginning of lockdown, the group offers a free technical support service to those 65+, from 8am to 8pm. Sandra Fox, who is a volunteer from Menlo, says all technical questions are welcome.
“Technology can be daunting for many older people and we are here to make the experience less difficult. We get calls about internet connectivity, video calling, printers, setting up a phone or iPad, installing Zoom, or even if there is a problem with a TV channel’s coverage. If the person who receives the call can’t help, we will follow the problem up until it is resolved. All technical questions are welcome. No question is too big or too small.
“We also help with installing the Covid tracker app. We can be contacted by phone on 01-9633288 and our line is open from 8am to 8pm every day.”
Volunteer call out
Fox who works as a full time project manager says she got involved when she spotted a link on LinkedIn and highlights that the group are looking to sign up more volunteers.
“At the start of lockdown, I was looking for a job and had a bit of spare time. I saw a recruiter ad on LinkedIn [for Covid19 Tech Help] and thought it was a fantastic initiative so I joined. It is such a worthy cause as there are a lot of people who need help with regards to technology. I’ve even recruited my brother.
“Covid-19 still hasn’t gone so we need more volunteers. I’m working full time now so it can be for only a couple of hours a week which can make a real difference. Even if you are not technologically inclined yourself, we have plenty of other areas for volunteers such as social media, branding, or even just chatting to our callers so it is a lot more than just answering phone calls for tech problems and sitting at a desk.”
And while the organisation was set up in response to the Covid-19 restrictions, Fox reveals the group will continue after Ireland has reopened.
“We plan to continue on post Covid-19 because the service has been so well received. We are currently in the process of rebranding and will be soon known as Generation Tech.”
Those interested in volunteering are free to sign-up from https://covid19tech.ie/volunteer/.