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Web helps elderly step back in time.

Byline: Barbara Hodgson Reporter

ELDERLY residents in Newcastle picked up some modernday skills in a new digital project which time-travelled from the world war to the world wide web.

The inspired idea at Coniston Court in Slatyford and Bamburgh House in Westerhope saw council tenants combine a Second World War-themed party and online quizzes as part of a drive to encourage more of them to become internet-savvy.

The project by Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), which manages the homes on behalf of the city council, has involved training 18 Digital Champions whose role is to encourage the tenants to make the most of the internet and to access YHN's own services.

The 20 to 64-year-olds are currently teaching digital skills to the elderly in the community and the war-themed party, designed to help them remember the conflict, proved a popular way to learn.

Residents took part in online quizzes, finding their answers through Google searches on laptops, as well as Skype conversations.

And they clearly enjoyed the results, sharing childhood memories and Second World War experiences.

Bamburgh House resident Mary Hanson said: "I am 85 years old and have never used the internet before so I didn't realise just how easy it is to find information that you need."

And 95-year-old Ada Sweeney, from Coniston Court, said: "I was 21 and in the Women's Land Army. I really enjoyed my time as part of that organisation.

"The party at Coniston Court made me realise just how different things are today from back then."

She added: "The Digital Champions were great and helped us to look up the answers to the quiz on the internet.

"My team managed to get all the answers right in both of the quizzes that we had to do on the laptop. How else would we have found out what time of day the Queen was born?" Terry Gorman, a fellow resident who completed the course to become a Digital Champion, said: "I was delighted that so many people came to the party."

The 64-year-old encouraged the residents to use the computer installed by YHN in the communal area and drew from his new skills to help with their searches.

He said: "Now that the residents realise they can find all types of information on the website and that laptops and tablets are easy to use, I am hoping that they will be contacting me for support." YHN is keen to involve as many residents as possible as it will soon be necessary to use the internet to make Universal Credit claims.

Its service is free for its customers who include Newcastle City Council, Byker Community Trust and Leazes Homes and it wants to train more Digital Champions.

A new course for those living in YHN-managed homes will take place in September. Call 0191 2788600 or email for details.


Clockwise |from far left, Matvey Cherny with Pat Wilson and Joyce McGee, Ada Sweeney and residents of Bamburgh House

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Aug 17, 2015
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