Community Dividend Fund helps older generation get with ‘IT’

A computer club which helps the elderly and isolated to stay in touch through information technology is one of the neighbourhood groups benefiting from the Tamworth Co-op Community Dividend Fund.

Whittington Community Computer Group is among more than a dozen organisations to receive a grant this year from the scheme which converts shoppers’ dividends into cash for good causes.

Customers at the Co-op’s Whittington convenience store raised £250 for the club by donating the ‘divis’ earned on their purchases.

The money will be spent on new tablets for members to use at their weekly meetings where they learn computer skills that keep them connected with relatives and friends.

John and Wendy Gilbert are pictured receiving cheque from Hayley Gilbert, manager of Whittington Co-op. Celebrating with them are IT trainer Mark Lawrence, Cliff Jefferies and other members of Whittington Community Computer group.

John and Wendy Gilbert (left), are pictured receiving a cheque from Hayley Gilbert, manager of the Whittington Co-op. Celebrating with them are IT trainer Mark Lawrence (right), Cliff Jefferies and other members of the Whittington Community Computer group.

The group meets in a room provided by St Giles Hospice for free and also holds classes at Whittington Village Hall and Lichfield Fire Station.

Wendy Gilbert, who set up the service five years ago with husband John on a voluntary basis, said: “We struggle to get grants and we needed new equipment, so this money will be really useful. We’re very grateful to the Tamworth Co-op and the shoppers for their support.

“We have 70 members overall, including carers who have become isolated. Our oldest member is 90. He had been given an iPad by his family but didn’t know how to use it. Often families have bought elderly relatives tablets but haven’t got time to teach them to use them. That’s where we come in. Members pay a subscription and we organise for a tutor to come in. We also have a young volunteer who helps with the teaching. People enjoy the company too.”

77-year-old Margaret Kimberley, from Handsacre, says she has learned so much about computers since joining that even her grandchildren consult her now.

“When my daughter went to Thailand for a holiday I was able to stay in touch through Viber which was reassuring for her and I’ve learned so many other things too, such as how to send my photos by email. When you get older you’ve got to keep in touch and this group helps me do that,” she said.

Hayley Gilbert, manager of the Whittington Co-op store, said: “Every year we ask our customers to nominate a good cause locally to donate their dividends to and this year they chose the computer club. It’s very rewarding to know that the money generated by the Community Dividend Fund will help people to stay connected with others.”