AbilityNet volunteer given permanent community role

AbilityNet volunteer and former Tech4Good Award winner Chris Grant has secured a role as Community Relationship Officer.

Chris began volunteering for AbilityNet in 2017 after resigning from a role with BT due to a long-term health condition, and several operations. 

“I was in quite a tough place with ill-health,” says Chris (28) from Invergordon. “I really didn’t know where life was going to lead. AbilityNet has given me so many opportunities to use my time and my skillset wisely. The support shown from staff and volunteers was immense. I’d been in and out of the hospital, and I never felt as if I was by myself – AbilityNet is like one big family,” he added. 

To others considering volunteering, he says “Volunteering at AbilityNet is unique. They treat everyone as one big family. We can go to each other; there are forums and WhatsApp groups, and you become friends, and it’s good to see that. This is the best organisation I have volunteered for because everyone is treated the same and opinions are heard,” says Chris. 

Do you have a passion for technology, and helping others? Volunteer for AbilityNet

Growing volunteer support in Scotland

With a passion for helping others, Chris embraced the voluntary role as County Co-Ordinator and was affectionately known as King of Scotland. He earned the nickname having grown the team in Scotland from a handful of volunteers to a team of almost 50 people helping older and disabled people with technology at home. 

“We now have just over 46 active volunteers, which has made a big difference. We have been able to enhance the AbilityNet name in Scotland and raise awareness of the great work that AbilityNet does,” says Chris, who was the 2019 Tech4Good Digital Volunteer of the Year

“When my name was read out, it was emotional. To be recognised was amazing – even being a finalist was great for me; and the journey to London.”

Do you or a loved one need help? Call our Free helpline on 0800 048 7642

Working for us in the Community

Reaching out into the community and connecting with other local and national charities has played a key role in the success of highlighting AbilityNet’s work, says Chris

That success, including local fundraising, has led to Chris securing a permanent appointment as AbilityNet’s Community Relationship Officer. “It’s special,” says Chris. “Being out of employment for so long, I never thought I would get a job I’d enjoy because of the big gap in my CV. AbilityNet has been a big part of my life for two years and to sign up as a permanent staff member – I was speechless.”

Free Services Manager Sarah Brain said: “I’m thrilled to have Chris on the team permanently. To see him move and grow from a volunteer to a Tech4Good Award winner, then a temporary member of staff, and now a full-time role, despite all his health challenges, is wonderful! His endless commitment to AbilityNet is second to none.”

Find out about CSR opportunities for your company, including staff volunteer opportunities.

Chris plans to continue volunteering alongside the permanent role. “I am passionate about both angles,” says Chris, who hosts regular meetups and training sessions for AbilityNet volunteers across the UK. 

He says his own journey through ill-health means he recognises clients’ struggles. “People don’t realise that people are isolated in the hospital for long periods of time, and they have got no-one.

"I can relate to that because in 2017-18 was like that for me. I was in and out of the hospital over a four-month period and felt isolated and cut-off from the outside world [and so] I can relate to people’s experiences of Covid-19 and having to stay in.”

How AbilityNet can help

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people.

  • Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We're open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm on 0800 048 7642
  • We have a range of factsheets that talk in detail about technology that might help you, which you can download for free. You may find our factsheets about voice recognition and keyboard alternatives useful.
  • My Computer My Way. A free interactive guide to all the accessibility features built into current desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Support AbilityNet

If you're able to help us, help others please donate to AbilityNet