From the Byron Markets to the Byron Theatre and the essential community services they offer, dedicated staff and volunteers of Byron Community Centre (BCC) have been supporting vulnerable members of our community for over 40 years with meals, advocacy, counselling and a range of arts and social programs for those in need.
NRCF’s Recovery and Resilience Grant funding supported the Byron Seniors Online Connect (BSOC) project designed to increase the resilience of seniors by providing tutoring in digital technology in order to increase their connection with loved ones during a very isolating time for many of the elderly in our community.
This innovative program involved the connection of seniors with social interest groups, the development of a learning program for the Computer Club, and the provision of a digital skills tutor in their home or at the local library depending on restrictions at the time. Tutors designed customised learning plans for each senior in line with their needs whilst also providing phone support throughout the project, and information relating to internet safety and security and how to access the best online social groups for them.
Thanks to Project Coordinator, Stephen Howard, BCC exceeded their beneficiary target making 75 outreach visits in total and working with 6 local senior’s organisations in the Shire including the Uniting Church Sewing and Social Circle, local chapter of the University of the Third Age, The Country Women’s Association, a local Theatre Group for Seniors, The Bangalow Men’s Shed and Byron Hospital Auxiliary Committee.
A total of 86.7% seniors who participated in the program reported feeling better equipped to complete digital tasks on their own with 67.7% saying that having these new digital skills helped reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation. What they enjoyed the most was the one-on-one outreach tutoring which took place in their homes.
According to BCC Community Programs Manger, Cherie Bromley, “increased access to social connections, family and essential online services and resources significantly improved our seniors overall wellbeing while the diversity of age, gender, cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the volunteers and students led to greater intergenerational and multicultural connections in the Shire during the program.”
“I’m really grateful for this fantastic program. Both tutors were excellent and informative. It’s terrible living out on a property with no driving licence and deteriorating eyes, so for me, the computer is the greatest thing since toffee apples. Through this program I can stay connected with the world and I won’t be left behind. It’s a great advantage.” Margaret Brown, 87 years old.
“I am riding on a cloud to the moon because the session you guided me through yesterday somehow freed the negatives I had with working on my computer. I have lacked self-confidence with computers so I evaded group situations because the fast learners shot ahead while I was still at the starting gate. Having one-on-one time with you has been a god send. I’m sure my brain works better when I feel confident and not anxious. I so appreciate your friendly professionalism, your skills and knowledge, your encouragement and positive reinforcement.” Maryanne Smith, 72 years old.
Find out more about the work of the Byron Community Centre HERE