Volunteering your IT skills to help others

AbilityNet has a network of volunteers that provide free IT support to older people and disabled people of any age. This month AbilityNet (AN) went up to Scotland to meet up with some of our volunteers in the north of the UK. As part of the trip we sat down with Chris Grant (CG) to get a first-hand perspective of what it’s like to be an AbilityNet ITCanHelp Volunteer. Here’s what he had to say…

Interview with an AbilityNet ITCanHelp Volunteer

Profile photo of Chris Grant, smiling facing the cameraAN: Hi Chris, it’s great to be able to meet face-to-face like this and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed. To start us off would you mind introducing yourself?

CG: Sure! My name is Chris Grant. I’m an AbilityNet ITCanHelp Volunteer and also the County Co-ordinator for AbilityNet’s network of volunteers in Scotland.

AN: And am I right in saying you’ve been volunteering with us for coming up to a year now? Thinking back, how did you first hear about AbilityNet?

CG: Well whilst browsing a website for local volunteering opportunities I came across the role at AbilityNet and applied straight away. I was really impressed with what AbilityNet was doing and their mission. I read a lot online about your services which made me keen to start volunteering as soon as possible - following a successful interview process that is!

AN: We shared your enthusiasm! So having been with us a fair few months now, can you tell us more about your role and what are some of the common things you help with as a volunteer?

A photo of the Facebook login screen in an internet browserCG: I mainly work with our volunteers in Scotland to ensure they can help people that contact AbilityNet for support and in a timely manner. I also create links with local organisations to market AbilityNet’s ITCanHelp services. As a volunteer myself I often support people in their homes with Facebook related queries and helping people to stay safe online.

AN: Thank you, and can you tell us a bit about your life prior to becoming a volunteer?

CG: Prior to joining the AbilityNet family I volunteered with a number of organisations to support their IT projects. I also had two spells at BT as a Customer Service Advisor for Business Repair.

AN: So throughout your career you must have met and helped many people. In your time as a volunteer with AbilityNet do any particular moments stand out?

CG: You meet some lovely people volunteering. I really have met some great people. The support from AbilityNet’s central team is amazing and I have a lot of time for them. When it comes to the people we’re helping there’s one lady in the North East of Scotland that I’ve developed an amazing friendship with. I get great pleasure from helping people with their technology, but I also enjoy connecting with people on a personal level, so if they want to talk about what’s happening in their life and their favourite TV show then even better!

AN: Supporting people with their technology, you must be very knowledgeable about IT. What apps or device features have you been most impressed by recently?

Vector graphic image via Microsoft website of a mobile phone camera being used to read aloud that there is a taxi on the streetCG: IT is such an ever-progressing thing, and over the last few months I’ve learnt about a lot of different assistive technologies. I’m very impressed with Seeing AI which is an app that uses the camera on your phone to read text out loud and allows you to check the amount of money in your hand amongst other things. It’s described as the ‘talking camera app for those with a visual impairment’.

AN: That’s amazing and it’s great to hear you’re always discovering new things in your role. So, for someone reading this, realising they could probably use their IT knowledge to help others, what would you want to say?

CG: If you want to use your IT knowledge to help people, then get in touch with AbilityNet and apply to become a volunteer.

AN: And before we finish, what are three attributes you need to be a good volunteer?

CG: You need to be energetic, reliable and committed.

AN: Thanks so much Chris for sharing your experience with us. Its there anything else you’d like to say?

CG: Get involved with AbilityNet. Being a volunteer is such a rewarding cause and great fun. You meet so many lovely people and remember, if you can help just one person, think about what they can now do all because of your support!

Find Out More

If you’d like to use your IT skills to support people you can enquire on our website about becoming an AbilityNet ITCanHelp Volunteer in your local area.

If you or someone you know could benefit from free IT support at home you can request a home visit on our website, call our helpline on 0800 269 545 or email us at enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk.