Phil decided to become a Digital Literacy Foundation trained volunteer digital mentor, or Tech Mate, four years ago, after reading a newspaper article about the work we do. During a recent phone chat, Phil revealed why he became a Tech Mate, discussed his approach to teaching tech skills, and explained what keeps him feeling excited about his next digital mentoring session.
Why did you join Digital Literacy Foundation as a volunteer digital mentor or Tech Mate?
It sounded like a great program and a good thing to do. I’d retired about 4 years prior, but had spent the last 10 years of my working life running the IT department of a multinational shipping company. I thought that I probably had the innate knowledge and skills to make a contribution.
How do you approach face-to-face digital mentoring sessions with Learners?
It’s not a program where we tell people what they must learn: we ask them what they want to learn. And we go at a pace that suits each individual Learner. Some people may only need one session, while others might have three or four months of regular sessions.
What do people want to learn?
Many people want assistance with how to do things such as send emails or text messages, or they want to understand social media. Once they realise they can keep in contact with family and friends, a whole new world opens up for them. One gentleman wanted to learn how to use Facebook Messenger, and was so excited when he could communicate with people he couldn’t previously.
Since COVID, older people have become more aware of digital, and realise that there’s more they need to do online.
What is your biggest highlight as a Tech Mate?
When you see the benefits digital skills brings to someone’s life, it’s a tremendous motivation to keep volunteering. People will often send a text message to say thank you. People are extremely appreciative of what you help them to do.
Thank you, Phil! And thanks to all our Tech Mates, who change people’s lives for the better!
To volunteer with us, you don’t need to be a tech wizard. You only need to have basic skills that you’d like to share. Find out more about becoming a Digital Literacy Foundation Tech Mate here.