Buddies put newbies in touch with technology

Market House, Long Sutton'Internet access session'Names: Larry Dench being shown the ropes by Mike Robinson
Market House, Long Sutton'Internet access session'Names: Larry Dench being shown the ropes by Mike Robinson
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SOME Long Sutton residents are joining the web revolution – even though they have no computers at home and wouldn’t know how to switch one on even if they did have one.

Members of the community are taking advantage of a new ‘computer buddy’ scheme running at the Market House in which a PC-savvy volunteer will sit alongside total novices while they take their first tentative steps in surfing the web.

Finding an alternative, cheaper energy provider, shopping online or buying and selling on internet auction sites are just some of the advantages open to those with access to the web.

Centre manager and development officer Jeanne Sibley says the computer buddy scheme has developed as the volunteer receptionists at the centre have grown in confidence to the point where all but one will act as a computer buddy.

“It is starting to pick up and people are phoning up to book a computer buddy,” said Jeanne.

“I think people want to be part of it because everything has a web or email address and I think people feel they are being passed by if they haven’t got access to a computer.

“We offer a sit-along service. We don’t offer training. It’s just if someone needs confidence they can have someone sitting beside them.”

Volunteers find it is mainly older people who feel they have missed out on the computer age. However, Jeanne says a couple of sessions with a computer buddy was all it took for one early retired resident to feel confident enough to start using their own computer at home while one of the centre’s volunteers has discovered it is much easier to book a caravan pitch online rather than waiting in a queue on the phone.

Jeanne points out: “There are so many things now where if you can’t use a computer or don’t have access you are a bit lost. There is a feeling you are disadvantaged.”

At the moment the free internet access is available every weekday except Tuesday, but that is expected to change to every day when one of the centre’s oldest volunteers, Larry Dench, gains confidence with the computers. “I’m confident I’ll learn to use it,” says Larry manfully.

Centre user Celia Jenness, from Gedney Dyke, is already a confident computer user but admitted it was helpful knowing she could pop into the Market House if she was in town and needed to print something. Celia also called on the assistance of computer buddy Mike Robinson while we were there to help her upload some of her photographs and she has been promised that next time he will show her how to list items for sale on online auctions.

n Long Sutton Market House has activities going on all week, such as Citizens’ Advice Bureau advisers on Monday and Thursday; the Wash Estuary Project Group renting an office; a card-makers’ group on Wednesday; Tai Chi on Thursday; a gardening club; dance lessons for adults on Monday and Wednesday evening and for children on Thursday morning; Market House movies showing about six films a year and about half a dozen productions a year put on by Long Sutton Town Arts Group. The Market House is also an outreach facility for the Spalding foodbank Agape.

n To book a computer buddy, contact the Market House on 01406 366767.