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Sii Power Volunteers fighting the Digital Divide

For the 14th time, on May 17th, we’re celebrating the World Information Society Day. On this occasion, events dedicated to new technologies, the role of IT in the development of society, and related problems are being organized all over the globe.  Sii Volunteers decided to deal with one of such threats — the Digital Divide. Łukasz Hucz, Test Engineer and Project Leader, told us more about the project carried out within the framework of the Sii Power Volunteers program.

How does the digital divide among seniors look like and why did you launch the initiative?

Łukasz Hucz, Test  Engineer: Unlimited access to technology makes our everyday life much easier. Most of us communicate through emails, use social media, do online shopping, or try out new mobile banking apps. However, to both our parents and grandparents the world of computers remains an enigma. They didn’t attend IT classes at school and never had a chance to use such equipment at work (well, maybe except typing machines). But this doesn’t mean that they can’t learn all thatcreating a friendly learning environment will do.

For many years now, I’ve been engaged in a variety of projects, including the ones run by the Piastun Foundation for Equal Opportunities. Some time ago we started the Senior Club in the Siemianowice Śląskie Branch. Knowing that seniors are open to getting acquainted with tech solutions facilitating our lives and that I’m working in IT and have considerable knowledge on this topic, I thought it was worth trying. Basically, that’s how the project was conceived. Soon after it was entered for the Sii Power Volunteers program and now I’m carrying it out with the Foundation.

What exactly is the project about?

Ł.H.: The Senior Club offers training in basic computer skills. This program is adjusted to the needs of participants divided into three groups, i.e. two beginners’ groups and one advanced group. We show how to use email and Microsoft Office, mainly Word and Excell, discuss Internet safety, and give practical advice on online shopping, as well as train-ticket and hotel booking.

The classes are held every working Wednesday in the Piastun Foundation,  between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Thanks to Sii’s support, we have five computer stations and all necessary office supplies, e.g. flipcharts, at our disposal. Also, to keep all seniors sweet, each week we’re offering them some tasty treats.

What does being a volunteer mean to you?

Ł.H.: It’s the first project I’m carrying out to help seniors. Before I took part in the organization of events for people of different age. I definitely feel satisfied seeing contented participants and knowing that the developed skills will help them a lot in their daily life. Seniors are open-minded and ready to acquire knowledge, which makes them a fun group to work with. Even one successful training session with them gives you a sense of fulfillment.

Are you planning to cover new topics?

Ł.H.: Of course, the thematic scope of our classes isn’t limited. The more volunteers, the more subject areas and interesting sessions. One presentation or weekly classes are both a great idea. We’re also thinking about introducing theoretical classes to be attended by a larger group of seniors. New courses in first aid, physiotherapy, and personal development will be offered as part of the Senior Club program.

Other projects focused on a digital divide among various social groups were also carried out within the framework of the Sii Power Volunteers program: Internet safety 50+  at Sii Poznań, IT consulting point during Warsaw Senior Days at Sii Warsaw; projects for kids and schoolchildren: programming and robotics classes  at Sii Poznań and IT classes for children organized currently in a parish common room by volunteers from Sii Katowice.

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