Pauline Dale had never used a computer before, but at the age of 98 she’s proving it’s never too late to get online. Read about how a project run by Age UK Milton Keynes is making a difference for older people in the area.
Pauline has been taking part in Online at Home, an initiative run by Age UK Milton Keynes as well as 11 other local Age UK partners across England. It teaches older people how to use a computer to access information and stay connected with friends, family and the outside world.
It specifically aims to help older people who are at a higher risk of isolation because they are housebound or live far away from their family and friends.
The staff at Age UK Milton Keynes thought Pauline would be ideal for Online at Home because of her hearing problems. She’s profoundly deaf and this can leave her isolated and sometimes ‘very lonely’.
She remembers learning about it: ‘Someone from Age UK came to see me with this leaflet and this wonderful offer to have it for 6 months. I think I can’t lose anything and it might work. And it did work, and it was very exciting.’
How Online at Home works
Phil Warburton has been helping Pauline get online by setting up her equipment and offering one-to-one lessons.
He visited her often over the first few weeks to help her get started before getting her settled into a regular routine which will continue for the rest of the 6-month schedule.
Phil has been an IT volunteer at Age UK Milton Keynes for more than 4 years, and he's enjoying working on the project: ‘Being less mobile, I think it opens up vast amounts of new opportunities.’
To get them up and running, each participant is given a refurbished computer and a mobile dongle (if they don't already have Wi-Fi access). A dongle is a small device that plugs into a computer to enable it to receive mobile internet signals.
Pauline is an ex-actress, so Phil has showed her how to look up her old film credits. He has also taught her how to shop online and keep in touch with her family through Skype.
She is using email to keep in touch with friends. Pauline says: ‘There’s a friend of mine who hasn’t got a mobile phone so she can’t text, so we correspond via email.’
Being online 'opens up the world’
Pauline was already curious about the internet through seeing her daughter on a laptop and hearing about the interesting things you can find online.
Pauline is delighted she can now find the information herself: ‘I can send and receive emails, I can look up people on Google… it’s wide open to learn whatever you can.’
Speaking of how she’s benefited from Online at Home, Pauline says: ‘It opens the world so you don’t feel so isolated. I’m amazed at how good Age UK is. They do so much.’
Pauline celebrated her 98th birthday recently, for which her family got her an iPad. She can't wait to explore all of the apps.
Online at Home is made possible by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation
Online at Home is a 1-year initiative supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The foundation is a world-leading international philanthropic organisation, making grants in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and medicine and social welfare. The foundation funds organisations that exhibit strong leadership and sound management and projects that will achieve a broad, lasting and positive social impact.
Find a computer training course near you
Age UK works with a network of providers across the country to offer computer training for older people. These courses offer easy-to-follow training with the aim that as many of us as possible ultimately enjoy the advantages of computers and the internet.
If you or someone you know wants to learn about technology, find out if Age UK is offering computer training near you.