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Project is helping get older people online

Roy Tomlin, 93, helps out at the Comfortable with Computers session.

Roy Tomlin, 93, helps out at the Comfortable with Computers session.

A former senior Derbyshire detective who helped pioneer the UK’s safeguarding system which protects the vulnerable has been given a grant by the University of Derby Buxton to help open up the internet to older people.

Russ Baker believes older people who can’t go online can no longer get a fair deal from society and sometimes not even have proper contact with their families or friends – so he was determined to do something about it.

The success of his weekly “Comfortable with Computers” session, open to all older people across the High Peak, is already attracting interest from government and other agencies.

The project, hosted by Fairfield Methodist Church, mirrors work previously carried out by Russ and a local social worker to combat the abuse of the elderly.

“I saw a lot of older people who were being abused by the system, not always in a clearly criminal way,” said Russ. “As a hater of bullies, it was my way of making it a fairer system.”

“Now older people who haven’t got access to the internet and don’t know how to use it safely are not able to get the best deals, or even get in touch with their relatives. Some people who come have already reduced their utility bills by large amounts by going online.”

The breakthrough for Russ was the realisation that older people want to use the newest technology, computer tablets.

But tablets are expensive, and the £250 from the university, as well as support from Fairfield Methodist Church, High Peak councillors Rachael Quinn, Caitlin Bisknell and Fiona Sloman, the Bingham Trust, Mellor and Smith Funeral Directors and the Buxton Hall Bank Trust, has enabled Russ to expand the work. Visit www.fairfieldmethodistchurch.org.uk/comp.html for more.

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