Computer training for Silver Surfers

Mike Smith of Newthorpe teaching 93 year old Stan Barnes to use a laptop.
Mike Smith of Newthorpe teaching 93 year old Stan Barnes to use a laptop.

As the world of technology races along at break-neck speed, many members of the older generation are fighting to keep up with the changes with some being left behind. Elizabeth Fry met up with an I.T. businessman who hosting some free computer classes to help people get to grips with the basics.

When 93-year-old Stan Barnes was given a netbook by his family for Christmas last year, he decided the time had come for him to have some computer lessons to learn the basics.

The retired ambulance officer who now lives in Church Lane, Underwood, says: “I didn’t have a clue how to use it.

“I found it interesting but at 93-years-old things don’t sink in quite so quickly and it was difficult.

“The problem is, you press one wrong button and it all goes wrong.”

Stan’s previous experience of computers had been limited to his job where they were used to relay information from the control room to the ambulances.

However, computer training was only introduced in the few years before Stan retired so he never had the opportunity to learn more than what was necessary for work and he didn’t go on the computer courses offered by the company.

Therefore in January, with the help of Age Concern, Stan contacted computer technician and founder of Newthorpe I.T., Mike Smith, who has been giving him some private tuition on his laptop.

And now, Mike is offering free training sessions to residents of Eastwood, Kimberley and the surrounding area to get to grips with basic computer skills and online activities to make their lives easier.

Stan believes these sessions are a great idea and would encourage anyone who wants to learn more about how to use computers to sign up for the courses.

He added: “It is better to learn the basics with a really good teacher beside you and Mike is very patient and very helpful.”

The sessions will be held at The Sun Inn in Eastwood and have been organised in conjunction with Broxtowe Borough Council and the Making A Difference community group which is funding the project.

They will be aimed at people over 50, those who are unemployed, and parents, as well as some twilight classes for local businesses who want to attract new customers.

Mike says: “We want to make a real difference to local people and learning basic skills can help make simple tasks more accessible and boost confidence for local residents.”

There will be a variety of training courses available from one off sessions to two-hour sessions once a week for a month.

The sessions will teach residents how to stay in contact with family using Skype, email and social media, as well as how to surf the web to shop and bank online.

Mike, who launched his I.T. business after he was made redundant from his job as manager at Derby college last year, says that these are vital skills which can make people’s lives much easier.

He says: “People are financially disadvantaged if they cannot get online as they can’t get the best deals by shopping on comparison websites, and online shopping can benefit those who have mobility problems.

“It will help relieve social isolation when families move away as they can keep in touch with them via email and Skype.”

The training will be held in November, with exact dates and times to be confirmed.

Anyone who is interested in taking part can register at Eastwood Cash Office, Nottingham Road on Tuesday 21st October between 9.00am and 1.00pm. Trainers will be there to discuss skills and help select the best session for them.

For more information contact Mike on 07582 351683 or visit