Age UK East London
(Hackney) computer centre

52 The Lawns, Matthias Road, London N16 8QD  /  020 7254 2183

Free computer training and free Internet access for everybody over 50 in Hackney.

Our computer centre is the home of Hackney Silver Surfers and Agewell Social Network. Sometimes we are known just as ‘The Lawns’, because that is where we are.

We have been here since 2003 – aiming to be a centre of expertise in understanding the impact on older people of rapidly developing new technology, and how older people can learn to use it to their advantage.

Since we started, we have helped more than 1,500 learners. We are busier now than we have ever been before.

Our silver surfer program

Currently we offer four main activities …

1. Agewell Social Network

This is a service for Hackney ‘midlifers’ – people in the pre-retirement age range 50 to 64. Agewell Social Network provides free training and access to the online world, and almost anything else that has ‘digital’ in its name – including mobile phones, digital cameras, digital radio, digital TV, digital video, the World Wide Web, email, Skype and much more.

Our approach is to present Internet use as a participatory social activity, and emphasise that its primary role is contact and communication.

At the moment, we devote Wednesday afternoons to help and support for people aged 50 to 64 who are still in the job market, and Friday afternoons to special workshops and social activities. We also keep drop-in space reserved for job-seekers and other mid-lifers who want to follow their own program.

There is a lot more information on the Agewell Social Network website: acc.lawns.org.uk

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2. ICT courses funded by the Hackney Learning Trust

These unaccredited courses are perfect for people who prefer a structured approach to learning, spread out over several weeks of regular attendance. Recently, the Hackney Learning Trust has supported several extended courses for beginners, and shorter, more advanced courses on popular topics such as ‘Internet safety’ and ‘Using digital pictures’.

These courses are always announced on the Hackney Silver Surfers website: hss.lawns.org.uk

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3. Hackney Mobile Seniors

This is a free weekly ‘clinic’. The Hackney Mobile Seniors team helps people who have problems with, or questions about, mobile computing – which includes laptops, smartphones, iPads, tablets, Kindles, and anything else which is portable and works with wifi, 3G or 4G.

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4. Open drop-in

The computer centre is available for drop-in use by older people at regular times each week, like a free Internet Café for older people. But please note that these times change occasionally. Drop-in is usually unsupported – so it's good for people who don't need help.

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Information for new learners

If you are 50 or over, and you live in Hackney, we will find a place for you somehow. Even if you don't live in Hackney, we can probably help you.

If you are not sure what you can do at our computer centre, or when you can come, please phone us on 020 7254 2184 or send an email to info@lawns.org.uk — or just come along and find out for yourself (that's often the best way).

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Information for referrers

Referrals are welcome, and you will probably be pleased to know that we have very few formalities. Please look at our current programs and decide which of them would best suit your client.

Considerations …

If you want to discuss this further, please contact us by phone (020 7254 2183) — or, preferably, by email to info@lawns.org.uk

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Information for volunteers

The best way to learn anything is to show other people how to do it. So we think of our informal volunteer track as an integral part of our learners' program. We are gradually building an impressive team of formal and informal ICT volunteers – some making a regular weekly contribution, others coming in when we need their special magic.

We are especially interested in encouraging local older people to become volunteers and ‘digital champions’ – learning more themselves by helping others.

Being ‘good’ at computers is helpful – but not the most important skill for a volunteer. Our experience is that older people learn most effectively from their peer community, and that definitely includes recent and current learners. Empathy and patience are by far the most valuable volunteer attributes.

Does that sound like you? Would you like to join or growing ICT volunteer team? If you would like to start talking about it, please send an email to info@lawns.org.uk — or just come along and find out for yourself what we do and how you could fit in (at the moment – Wednesday or Friday afternoons are the best times to call in).

By the way – becoming one of our informal ICT volunteers is an encouraging step towards becoming a registered Age UK East London volunteer. We can tell you about that when we see you.

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Where we are and how to contact us

Our computer centre is near Newington Green, on the 236 bus route.

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