Sky Cares and Age UK Stockport are DigiKnow partners who run regular digital support sessions at several locations in Stockport, helping people get online. Nikki Thompson, who leads the community projects and volunteer work at Sky in Stockport, tells us more about this vital project.

I have been supporting our community projects for Stockport Sales at Sky for the last eighteen months, as well as supporting Sky’s amazing Befriending initiative. As part of this, I encourage more staff at Sky to sign up through Sky Cares, Sky’s volunteering programme, using their volunteer days to make a difference to the local community.

It’s something I absolutely love and wholeheartedly believe we make a huge difference to our community when we all band together.

I’ve been working with Chris from Age UK Stockport for a while now and have collaborated with him on several brilliant projects. Such as during the summer, when we invited Age UK Stockport and the Brinnington activity group into our Sky offices in Stockport for a lovely afternoon tea and film during the Queen’s Jubilee. It was a fabulous event, and I was overjoyed that everyone went home with smiles on their faces after a lovely afternoon! I can’t wait to bring them in again soon.

Digital Brinnington workshops

Closest to my heart are the Digital Brinnington workshops that I’ve been attending with Chris for a year now. On my first visit I was so surprised to see how many people needed help with various things. It’s wonderful that Age UK Stockport offer this support and have even been able to provide devices to some people, including some laptops donated by Sky.

I find my role so rewarding and eye opening which I hope you can imagine as I share with you a couple of moments that I’ve had the pleasure of being part of:

One lady I helped had been given a tablet by Age UK Stockport on a previous visit. however, the lady was returning the tablet, explaining it wasn’t working. On further investigation, it turned out that she didn’t have broadband at home, so this was why the tablet wouldn’t work for her. We had a chat and discovered she had unlimited data on her phone, so we showed her how to connect to the internet by using her hotspot.

It was so heart-warming to see how happy she was. She was able to get online for the first time, and we showed her how to get on Google and search for whatever she wanted. The lady was particularly happy to learn how to contact old friends on Facebook; it has helped her communicate with people and given her a whole network of friends.

On another occasion, Elsie came in and needed to apply for a blue badge online but didn’t know how to upload a photo. I helped Elsie by taking her photo and showing her how to upload it. We then added it to her blue badge application, which saved her a lot of hassle and worry.

On my latest visit, we helped Malcolm. Malcolm is a regular visitor to the group and is always cheerful and wants to help others. Malcolm attends all the walking groups in the local area and is a great listener. He recently told Chris he was interested in becoming a volunteer for Age UK, so he came to the group at Brinnington Library for help filling in his application.

We helped Malcolm fill in the application and talked about the skills and knowledge he could bring to the role. It was such an interesting conversation learning about Malcolm’s life and the life skills he has. Hopefully, Malcolm will be successful in his role. I’d love to see him spreading that cheerful energy to others.

Not only is this role rewarding and uplifting for me, but it helps our older people get to grips with how amazing technology is. They’re able to fill out forms, speak to friends and video call family. On top of that, we teach them about cyber safety which is so important with increasing online scams all over the world.

There are now several volunteers at Sky who attend the digital sessions and we hope to keep growing our numbers in the future so that we can continue to help the wonderful people at Brinnington and across Stockport for years to come.

The support provided by the Sky volunteers has been fantastic. The volunteers have attended every digital drop-in session since December 2021 at Brinnington leisure centre and, more recently, at Brinnington library.

What is most noticeable is that the Sky volunteers have not only brought their extensive technical knowledge to these sessions but, most importantly, have taken the time to really listen to the needs of residents and, as a result, have built trust and rapport, leading to real connections.  This is something I think residents have valued as much as the technical help they have received.  The partnership working and collaboration between Sky and Age UK Stockport is a great example of what can be achieved to make a real difference to individuals and the local community.

Chris Barlow

Age UK Stockport

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