John Thompson at the Green Man for digital drop in session
John Thompson
John Thompson
Wednesday 4th July 2018 - 13:46

Helping cross the digital gap

A few years ago, I was invited to The Green Man. I assumed a session down the pub at someone else’s expense! On arrival and seeing no handpumps, it dawned on me that this wasn’t the hostelry I had once visited.

To my surprise it was now the newly built home of Phoenix Community Housing, an extremely welcoming and helpful place for its residents and the wider community, offering a range of much needed facilities and engaging activities.  

I was really at The Green Man to ‘give back’ to my local community. My career has offered me the opportunity of working in the private, public and voluntary sectors, and for more than 30 years involved with technology. After early retirement I felt a strong desire to pass on my baton of skills and knowledge to those who could most benefit. Consequently, I jumped at the chance to get involved and volunteer at the Wednesday morning weekly digital drop-in sessions in The Green Man.  

Like it or not, technology of all kinds is no longer a nice to have but a necessity, enabling you to communicate with friends, family and businesses, access vital services, shop, bank, find stuff out, watch TV, listen to the radio, take photos and videos – the list just goes on and on.

The phrase ‘mind the digital gap’ has been no more important to address than it is now - especially within Lewisham borough where the number of residents without internet access remains significantly high.

This situation inevitably causes difficulties, not least in added time, expense and inconvenience, often to do some of the simplest things such as inform the council that your wheelie bin hasn’t been emptied, or everyday things like finding out when the next bus is due.

The only way anyone can really look for a job successfully is to search the internet. Virtually all employers advertise via this medium and expect candidates to apply online.

I’ve also experience with both the Newcastle-upon-Tyne and former Inner London Education Authority Careers Services helping those seeking employment – and this is a key reason why I also support the Job Club on Tuesday mornings.

I really enjoy helping a wide range of individuals from all age groups and backgrounds through Phoenix.  Be it for someone to make better use of their smart phone or seek work online, it is a privilege for me. Personal satisfaction is secondary, although it is rewarding to hear from them that I have succeeded.

The learning experience doesn’t end there. Given the significant advances being made, especially with so-called smart technology, I’m still learning and you can too!

So if you don’t know what is meant by phrases such as: ‘just Google it’, ‘you need 4G’, ‘are you on Facebook?’, or ‘you’ll have to go online to access our services’, then fear not. You know where to find me and I’d be delighted to help and explain things in a way that I’m confident you’ll understand.