Age Action computer training opens up a new world for older people – more than 6,000 silver surfers in Galway city and county can attest to that
Age Action is a non-government organisation that promotes a positive approach to ageing and strives to provide better services to older people in our communities.As part of this,
BY ROBERT GRACE
Age Action centres around the country provide ‘getting started’ classes in the use of computers and the internet to people over 55.
The programme is part of a campaign against digital exclusion and has been running for eight years, which have seen more than 6,000 in Galway alone avail of the service.
Classes take place in libraries, community centres, family resource centres and housing complexes for older people around the county.
Niamh Hennelly is a Development Officer at Age Action’s offices in Galway. “The computer classes we provide can open up a whole new world for older people. Our volunteers teach people the basics of computer use,” she explains.
“We begin with teaching students how to switch on a computer and progress to surfing the internet and sending and receiving emails. Beginners can progress to improver classes which involve teaching them how to use social media among other things.
“Many of the people in these classes have their own Facebook account,” she says. “However, more are interested in learning how to internet shop, send emails and use Skype. Many older people now use the internet to keep in contact with family members that have left the country.”
The computer classes in Galway run for two hours a week over a four week period. All the tutors involved are volunteers of all ages who come and share their skills with older people. They provide one-to-one training to ensure people get the best guidance possible.
Imelda O’Sullivan is one of those who recently began taking computer classes with Age Action West. “I got a present of a computer from my brother some time ago but I had no idea how to use it,” she says.
“First I learned all about Google and how to navigate the internet in general. Now I am constantly emailing and soon I will move on to learning how to Skype. I have family in England and China and I could not afford to keep ringing them on the telephone,” she explains.
Imelda is particularly grateful for the one-to-one training provided by Age Action, and is quick to mention her own tutor, James, for his efforts. “I took a computer class a few years ago and I found that everyone in it was streets ahead of me,” she explains. “With James, I can move entirely at my own pace and go back over things a number of times if necessary.”
Age Action provides several other worthwhile services for older members of the community. Irish and Spanish lessons, reminiscence training, book clubs, creative writing classes and care and repair services are just some of the initiatives on offer.
The achievements of Imelda and thousands more like her is testament to both the quality of Age Action’s training programme and to the manner in which digital inclusion can stimulate the lives of older people in the community.
But as with many others involved in the voluntary sector, the Getting Started initiative is run on stretched funding.
The Department of Communication, Energy and Natural Resources provides grants as part of its digital inclusion programme and Age Action has also been involved in a fund raising initiative with Innocent Smoothie Company.
The ‘Big Knit’ campaign encouraged supporters to knit small woolly hats that fit around the top of the company’s Smoothie bottles.
Then, 25 cent from every bottle sold is donated to Age Action and campaigners have targeted a figure of 65,000 little hats for this year. While these initiatives are important fundraisers, Age Action welcomes contributions from the general community.
A Moycullen win would add badly needed spice to football’s big day
Inside Track with John McIntyre
BEFORE a ball was kicked in this year’s Galway senior championship, the smart money would have been on champions Corofin, Tuam Stars, Salthill/Knocknacarra and Mountbellew/Moylough making it to the semi-finals if they managed to keep out of each other’s way on the road to the penultimate stage off the title race.
Unfortunately, for a Salthill team which, in any event, didn’t scale their expected heights this year, they came up against the champions in the quarter-finals where the Seasiders’ challenge was dismissed in convincing fashion. It was business as usual for Corofin who remain odds on to claim a record-breaking eighth consecutive title.
With Tuam Stars edging out Bearna after extra-time, a Paul Kelly goal helping Moycullen get the better of St James’, and Mountbellew/Moylough powering home against 14-man Killannin, it means that three of last year’s semi-finalists are back seeking a place in the Galway decider this weekend. Mountbellew/Moylough are the odd ones out having fallen to Corofin in the 2019 quarter-finals.
Val Daly’s troops will need the performance of the lives to overturn club’s football’s dominant power, especially as they continue to field without county player John Daly – a son of their manager. Of course, they are not without a chance and if the likes of Michael Daly, Matthew Barrett, Eoin Finnerty, Eoin Ryan and Barry McHugh hit the ground running, they could give Corofin a searching time.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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Greens see red on gold rush
Opposition is intensifying to the prospect of a licence being awarded to Canadian gold prospectors planning to explore the heart of Connemara.
Environmental campaigners have warned of the dangers of awarding a prospecting licence to Toronto-based MOAG to mine for gold and silver in land around Roundstone, Ballyconneely and Ballynahinch.
They claim the exploration could devastate water supplies, tourism, wildlife – and also led to tensions in the local community.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton has indicated he intends to grant a prospecting licence to the company to explore for the valuable minerals in townlands in Ballynahinch Barony.
The licence allows the holder to explore for mineral deposits, and does not authorise mining of any materials that are found – that requires further licensing.
And Minister Bruton’s Department insists that the activities permitted under this licence are “non-invasive” and “of minimal environmental impact”.
However, campaigners have warned of the dangers mining can have on Connemara, and have urged the public to object before July 6.
See full story in this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Controversial Ballinasloe landfill prepares for closure
The Galway dump that forced householders to close their windows during the hottest of summers will take in waste for the last time during the middle of this year.
The pong the emanated from the landfill site in Kilconnell will be no more as it will cease accepting waste by the end of June next year.
Ballinasloe area councillors were told how Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site following the liquidation of the former operators Greenstar.
The Council agreed to accept 300,000 tons of municipal waste over a three-year period and this will come to an end by the middle of next year, after which the dump will be capped and closed the following year.
Director of Services Jim Cullen informed a meeting of Ballinasloe Municipal Council that following the closure of the dump, there would be long term care of the site to ensure that there would be no adverse environmental issues.
When Galway County Council took over the running of the landfill site, an allocation of €300,000 was provided by the Department of the Environment for local projects.
Of this, €120,000 has been given to the area engineer to spend at his discretion and the remaining €180,000 has been dispersed equally among the six Ballinasloe councillors – resulting in each getting €30,000 to spend on projects in their area.
It is expected that a further €300,000 will be allocated to organisations within a certain radius of the landfill site and a committee made up of Cllr Aidan Donohue (FG), Cllr Dermot Connolly (SF) and Cllr Timmy Broderick (Ind) to decide how this fund will be dispersed.
For years, the dump in Kilconnell caused annoyance for local residents because of the smells emanating from the site and many householders say that it is still a major problem.
Cllr Michael Finnerty warned about the possibility of a run-off of leachate – a liquid that drains from landfill sites that can cause pollution – from the site into the future.
He said that he attended a meeting in Ballinasloe in which residents expressed concern about a leachate run-off from the old dump in Poolboy which has been closed down for years.
He was assured by Mr Cullen that the situation in Poolboy was being continually monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency but he would investigate these claims.
With regard to the closure of the dump in Kilconnell, Cllr Aidan Donohue said that he was not convinced about the ongoing maintenance of the site into the future.
He said when the landfill site in New Inn was closed many years ago, the Council just walked away and left the site in an unacceptable state.
The Fine Gael councillor was referring to suggestions that the Kilconnell site might have future potential and may be an asset but he cited what happened in New Inn when he said that it was just abandoned.