Ninety-four-year-old Plymouth man decides to learn how to use a computer for the first time
A NINETY-four-year-old man is hoping that learning to use the internet will enable him to stay in contact with his family more.
Turnchapel man Don James has lived on his own for the last 16 years and needs support to get out and about.
But he is hoping a new project, being offered by the Plymouth branch of national charity Age UK, will help him with day-to-day life, as well as enabling him to connect with his family more.
Plymouth SeniorNet is a pilot project being run in partnership between Routeways, Age UK Plymouth and Plymouth University.
The project, being funded by the Big Lottery, aims to improve the social and emotional wellbeing of isolated older people across the city through IT.
SeniorNet aims to transform the lives of up to 200 older people in Plymouth by helping them to learn how to use computers and get online – and Don is one of the first to sign-up to the project.
He said: "I was interested in the project because I wanted to use the internet to broaden my horizons. I have two sons who are computer addicts with square eyes, but I have never used a computer in my life."
Don was the first person to be matched with one of the project's volunteers who then arranged the installation of broadband at his home, and discussed the best type of computer for him.
Don said: "I decided to buy an iPad because it seemed to be the most convenient and the alternative was rather bulky. It also seemed much more straightforward and its size and portability were good."
Whilst the project does not supply the computer, tablet or broadband, it can offer support to those who may need it.
Don received his iPad on Thursday and is already getting to grips with using it.
He said: "I have a particular interest in model railways and now I can look it all up on the internet. I hope to also be able to use it for food shopping, buying presents and staying in contact with friends and family who don't live locally.
"Maybe I'll learn how to use Skype, but I'll take it one step at a time first."
The project has so far recruited 17 volunteers since last September, but is looking for more people to come forward.
Mary James, volunteer co-ordinator at SeniorNet, said: "It's a really nice project to be involved in and volunteers are only expected to give an hour a week for 8-10 weeks initially."
Don said he is really enjoying the time he spends with his volunteer and is encouraging more people to show their support for the project.
He said: "I would encourage more volunteers to come forward and help people like me to get online. I'm really enjoying how to learn my iPad. My sons laughed when I told them what I was doing but I'm hoping to be the one who has the last laugh!"
Anyone interested in the project, or who wants information on how to become a volunteer, is asked to contact Mary on 665424 or email Mary.James@ageukplymouth.org.uk.