ab-IT: Auchinairn & Bishopbriggs IT Project, East Dunbartonshire

Ten members from the Strathkelvin Activities Club for disabled people got together with six Bishopbriggs Academy sixth year students who had offered to teach them computer basics using the 'Computers for the Terrified' course. The young volunteers worked with the group and supported their learning while mutually building positive relationships (a key aim of intergenerational work).The older participants gained new IT skills and a great sense of achievement. Most were keen to continue computer learning through the local learning centre - e.g. how to create a Twitter page and learning to use Skype.

At the end of 15 hours of tuition certificates were presented at a celebration tea party and the volunteers were delighted to receive two cinema passes each as a thank you for their efforts. The volunteering also counted towards the Duke of Edinburgh Award and MV Award. (The MV Awards programme recognises volunteering contributions of young people aged 16-25.)

The young people gained a greater understanding of the older adults through discussing  the reasons behind learning IT skills and felt  enthusiastic about volunteering again.

Arranging suitable transport to and from the school. At the end of the day the council supplied a mini bus free of charge with lower floor entry and also a taxi for one member.
Persuading the school that it was a valuable use of students' time by emphasising links with the Curriculum for Excellence and volunteering awards.

Lessons Learned
Make the course longer as it is very simple to run and only cost £40 to deliver. This is a great project to start with as a first-time intergenerational project.

Quotes from learners and volunteers
"A great success! I aim to be the oldest Tweeter in town!"
"Excellent opportunity to get to know what makes young people tick."
"It's so simple when you get over your initial fear."
"I have really enjoyed listening to the older people's life stories and being able to use this in other areas of my school work."
"Excellent fun - it has changed how I feel about older people."

"It has been a pleasure to assist in the delivery of the project and has opened my eyes as to how the school can work with CLD to deliver the Curriculum for Excellence. I look forward to working with them in the future." Mr McBride, Bishopbriggs Academy.

Contact: Alastair Ewen, Assistant Manager - CLD Infrastructure, East Dunbartonshire Council, CLD & Children`s Services: Integrated Support, 36 Roman Road, Bearsden, G61 2SQ 0141. Tel: 0141 578 8695


Watch a YouTube video of what participants in a similar project south of the border have to say about intergenerational learning.