How remote volunteers can provide expert tech guidance

Newly published author Steven Liska contacted AbilityNet in 2022, as he was looking for help with working on documents on his laptop. 

AbilityNet volunteer Jamie Robson was drafted in to provide online remote support to Steven, who was based in Colwyn Bay in North Wales. Unfortunately at the time AbilityNet didn't have any volunteers nearby to be able to pay Steven a home visit.A couple Steven and Linda standing in the countryside

"We arranged a convenient date and time to have a remote support session, during which I talked Steven through installing 'Teamviewer', which is our preferred tool for assisting clients remotely," says Jamie.

"This worked like a charm and, since Steven had granted permission, meant that I could see what was on Steven’s screen and demonstrate things as well."

Although Steven had done some writing in years gone by, he'd never actually written a book and was keen to discover the useful features within Word that would help with his task. "I was fortunate enough to find AbilityNet with an internet search," says Steven.

The rewards of remote volunteering

Steven’s wife, Linda (pictured here with Steven), is a stroke survivor and he was writing a book about their shared experiences, challenges (and victories) following Linda’s stroke in 2011.

Book cover with two seabirds on the beach in the low tide. Words: Steven Liska 'How life can change at a stroke'Jamie and Steven had several remote sessions, during which Jamie also helped Steven with other aspects of computer usage.

"It's easy enough to find people who will fix a computer, but it's almost impossible to find people who will instruct you how to use one, especially when it comes to specialist programmes," Steven says.

With Jamie's help explaining how the technology worked, Steven was able to complete the work on his book, How Life Can Change At A Stroke, which is now available to buy online.

"I was delighted to hear from Steven that it was published earlier this year. It was honestly a privilege to be a small part in the creative process which allowed Steven to complete what he’d set out to do," says Jamie.

Could you use your IT skills and know-how to change lives in rural areas? 

Many older and disabled people experience difficulties with their technology and when trying to participate in the digital world. Our wonderful volunteers, like Jamie, provide one-to-one technology support to help them achieve their goals.

Start your rewarding volunteering journey

Enabling lifechanging moments

Jamie has been providing remote support with AbilityNet for many years, including throughout the pandemic. 

One request for support particularly sticks in Jamie's mind: 

"It was a gentleman in his '90s in Edinburgh who’d been unable to see his first grandchild because of lockdown. We had a remote session and managed to get Skype working which then enabled him to see his grandchild for the very first time. It was wonderful to be able to do that for him."

Remote support is a vital part of what AbilityNet do. Whilst it’s not suitable for every request we receive, it does allow us to respond quickly to many requests and also help clients who unfortunately don’t have volunteers within travelling distance. It also helps us to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum since no travelling is involved.

A graphic of a strap line banner with the text '#VolunteersWeek'Free webinar on the benefits of volunteering - get involved!

Jamie shared his volunteering experiences during our free lunch and learn session on Tuesday 6 June at 1pm BST, where guests from Capgemini UK, and AbilityNet also shared information on ‘How volunteering can benefit you or your organisation’.
Profile images of Jamie Robson, Joe Tunesi, Bethan Richmond, and Darren Fox-Hall. Text displays: Free Webinar: How volunteering can benefit you or your organisation.

Stroke-related resources

More resources about volunteering