Volunteer Case Study: Annabel Slater
It was Annabel’s brother and two very dear close friends who, at the beginning of this year 2012, inspired her to have a go. For Annabel, the first and foremost reason for joining a computer course was to give her independence. It would also give her a chance to be able to learn, work and play at the computer alongside her six-year-old grandson.
Be brave and have a go!
The decision made, courage was required to take the next step. Annabel enrolled onto a local Computers for Beginners course, but found that the course content assumed a level of knowledge that, as a complete novice, she did not have. Confidence severely knocked, Annabel let the matter drop, until a chance mention was made of some courses for complete beginners that were being run by Citizens Online as part of BT’s “Get IT Together” project. After a friendly chat with the project coordinator, Annabel’s confidence was reignited and she was ready to enrol onto a 5 week course which started in April 2012 at Truro Community Library.
And since then Annabel hasn’t looked back, as she explains:
“I was really nervous before the first session but once it was over I came out feeling much more confident and couldn’t wait for the next session. In fact, from then on I couldn’t wait to get in the car and go down to the library for the next session!
“As a complete beginner, I was delighted and relieved that the course really did start off with the basics. I learnt how to use the mouse, open up and log in to different programs and browse through the Internet to discover the vast amount of information that you can find on there. Then, with help from the tutors, I set up an email account and became confident in sending and receiving emails.
“The staff and volunteers on the course were exceptionally helpful and friendly, which made a huge difference. It allowed me to relax and really start taking things in, rather than worrying that I was asking a silly question or might accidentally break the computer by clicking the mouse button in the wrong place.”
“Learning about computers has given me independence”
Annabel owns a self-catering holiday cottage, which an agency manages on her behalf. Now, Annabel can find out how many bookings there are without having to pick up the phone:
“I can simply visit the agency website and check the availability section myself, which makes life very easy. Next, I want to learn how to use spreadsheets so that I can monitor bookings and income myself. And further into the future, when I feel much more confident using the Internet, I would like to look into online banking.
“The Internet has given me independence and opened up a lot of doors. It has also made me think more and really broadened my outlook on life because there are so many interesting things you can find out, whether it’s looking for gardening advice or rare plants, keep fit, important information from the county council or using local events and tourism websites to plan days out with my grandson. I have also planned car journeys using the Internet, which gave me plain and simple instructions to get from A to B.
“I have also been able to use BBC iPlayer, and, being very interested in equestrian sport, was able to catch up on coverage that I missed during the recent London Olympics.
“Emailing is great too because it opens up a new world and you can make contact with friends and family that you might not be in touch with otherwise. In fact, I recently received an email from an old friend with whom I used to keep ponies; I hadn’t heard from her in years until, from out of the blue, an email arrived! She had been given my new email address by my brother and we’ve been in regular contact ever since, catching up on news and remembering old times.”
This is just the beginning…
Annabel joined the course to learn enough for herself and to keep pace with her grandson, but has found the rewards to be greater than she imagined. As she says, it was simply a matter of being brave enough to have a go:
“To anyone thinking of taking a Computers for Beginners course, I would simply say, “Don’t be frightened.” You’ve got to try to keep up with new technology – it’s the future after all – and there’s so much you can learn. I’m already looking into what courses I can take to develop my skills further; practice makes perfect! It really is the way forward so be brave and give it a go. My experience so far has been fantastic.
“Starting on the computer was, in many ways, a turning point for me, opening up so many new doors. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d achieve this.”
It is now October 2012 and Annabel is volunteering with the Superfast Cornwall Volunteer Network.
“It’s great fun being involved even though I’m not that experienced yet in helping others use the computers. I’m helping people get the confidence to have a go for the first time – after all I know what it’s like!”
Annabel is really keen to share her time and can see the enjoyment people are getting out of using IT. Annabel is looking forward to continuing within the volunteering programme and is on course to gain her first qualification in IT very soon with plans to gain a further qualification in the New Year.