Breaking down barriers to technology for elderly and disadvantaged adults

Three men sitting on chairs, smiling

Shashi Hirani tells us how his Community Award will help the Kingsbury community to connect with free IT training sessions for the older generation.

I have been involved with the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir Kingsbury (home to Shree Muktajeevan Academy of Excellence) for most of my life. It is a place where people from all sectors of the community gather to work collectively for the benefit of society.

Technology has moved on so much and we don’t want the older generation to get left behind and feel isolated. We want to provide them with a platform in which they can engage with the younger community to help break down any barriers between generations. That “inter-generational connectivity” is one of our core values.

“This Community Award has given the older members of our community a real boost.”

When I received the information about the Foundation’s Community Awards, I sat down with our IT guys and we came up with a plan to deliver a series of bite-sized IT sessions designed for older users, covering basic skills such as using the internet, accessing services, social media and online safety.

Computers, tablets and smartphones are an increasingly important portal to vital health and social services. But many people are disadvantaged, whether they’re scared, lack skills or just don’t have the resources and confidence to access IT devices. People are being excluded and potentially feeling isolated – the IT training sessions will help to address these gaps.

Getting volunteers to help deliver the sessions was not a problem – it was the initial capital that we required in order to purchase the equipment.

“This Community Award will benefit people for years to come. It will break down boundaries and help different generations to connect.”

We’re really grateful to have been awarded the funding from the Foundation. It will allow us to equip an area of the community centre with various technologies and develop the facilities to hold the IT sessions at no cost to the users.

This initial investment will benefit people for years to come. We’re hoping to run the programme for 40 people in the first instance, growing this to cater for more than 120 by next year and increase this in the future. It will benefit many people and make a massive difference.