Tech volunteering with: older people, those with sight loss, young innovators and those disenfranchised - meet the AbilityNet Tech4Good Volunteer of the Year finalists

Four fantastic volunteers have made it to the finals of the AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards Volunteer of the Year category. We think you'll agree, they all deserve praise and recognition. Choose of the four, or one of our other finalists (pictured below) to vote in the People's Choice award, which closes today. 

On 11 July we'll be tweeting the results of the awards from the BT Centre in London. Join us here

Simon Cook: Digital champion for older people

Simon has helped hundreds of elderly people gain access to IT equipment and a wifi connection for the first time,” said Paula Blackledge from Digital Unite.

He started volunteering for Centra Group five years ago. Since then this digital champion has managed to set-up IT equipment in 52 sheltered housing schemes across London, and as far-a-field as Norfolk and Telford. He runs a computer club four days a week that supports more than 30 people, has recycled old equipment and made grant applications for communities."

Julia the scheme manager at Kestrel Court, where Simon runs his weekly club, said: “Simon has been so amazing to work with, he is so kind and generous with his time and his patience is never-ending. Kestrel Court now has amazing tech."


Tech4Good 32 finalists 2017


Christine Dodd: Helping people with sight loss navigate Facebook and assistive devices

Former nurse, Christine Dodd is a smartphone and tech whizz. She is blind and teaches everything she knows to other people with sight loss, so everyone can benefit from tech.

Philip, an RNIB assistive aechnology coordinator said of Christine: “ It’s her unique combination of kindness and technical knowledge that makes this tech volunteer stand out from the crowd.”

She runs home and group technology learning sessions covering everything from specialist assistive devices to how to use Facebook. She has run sessions as part of RNIB’s ‘Living With Sight Loss’ courses.

When someone with sight loss becomes confident in using technology, the benefits can be life changing.


Emily-Jayne Crittenden: Inspiring community digital skills and innovation

Emily runs two local tech businesses and in 2014, volunteered to organise Norfolk Developers, a technology community group.

Through Norfolk Developers she organised over 90 events and workshops. These workshops are pivotal in keeping the local digital and technology community skilled and relevant, which in turn breeds innovation. This directly impacts start-up growth, as well as enabling traditional businesses to understand what technology can do for them.

After her success with Norfolk Developers, she has now kicked off a venture called Digital East Anglia to inspire younger developers, engineers and creatives to share tech skills and create digital hubs.


Steve Smith: Using his networks to suppot disenfranchised people with IT

The Collett Special Educational Needs School for children from 4 to 17 years is one of the lowest funded in Hertfordshire. Many of the children have no access to IT outside of school.  Steve, who is a key volunteer with the Charity IT Association (CITA) has come to the rescue, advising us on wifi and supporting funding applications.

In the last year, Steve has helped fourteen small charities via CITA and every time he is the first person to respond every time to special requests. He has a willingness to call on his wider networks to request support for others and has personally donated/brokered several additional items of IT equipment that have enabled organisations to do more than than they dreamed of. 

“Because of Steve’s skills and advocacy, not only do we have a fully-modernised learning suite that works seamlessly, we also have two amazing digital whiteboards which have made our group IT sessions so much more engaging and energetic for the people taking part," says Christina Lake, from the charity Blenheim which supports people with drug and alcohol problems.