By Debbie Braden, Director of TV Conwy.
“Take photos with your phones” we said, “send them to your friends and family” we said “ oh I can’t do that” they said, “ far too complicated for someone of my age! “. Five weeks into the first course the group were so excited they hadn’t even stopped for coffee and biscuits “ How do I add a title? “, “Can I put any kind of music under this?”, “ Can I do this in slo-mo then? “ – the room buzzed with happy students firing questions at Mark, the ever-patient tutor.
It was thanks to the National Lottery Community Fund’s Grab-a-Grant project that we were able to put together the “Through Older Eyes “proposal and we were flabbergasted and totally delighted to find that we’d been voted for by the communities of Conwy and Bangor along with 4 other lucky winners.
Sitting in the empty meeting room at Ty Hapus in Llandudno on the morning of our very first session – we were anxiously wondering if any of the eight people who’d signed up were actually going to arrive, ten minutes later we were scouring the building for more chairs.
Throughout the five weeks Mark went through the various things the phone in your pocket or the tablet on you table can do – ever wondered what wobbly line with a slash through it means? Mark unlocked a lot of mysteries for so many of us – but also, most days he went home with a page full of other questions from our eager over 50’s.
As the sessions rolled out across the other 3 locations we found the same things happening – we kept running out of chairs and space for our students (who kept bringing in a constantly varying pile of devices to learn to use ). Although sometimes frustrated by things which many of the older generation seem to have in common – not enough hours in the day, too many other volunteering jobs and hobbies on the go, childcare duties, and, oh yes, occasionally, very occasionally, ill health – our participants finished the 5 weeks buzzing with their new-found knowledge.
Since starting “Through Older Eyes “we’ve learnt a lot a lot, our oldest participant’s (92 years young ) main problem was finding a comfortable enough chair, we’ve had people with impaired vision and hearing, had to find room for a portable oxygen machine and had to adapt some of the terminology we’ve used day-to-day – but we’ve also learned that our initial idea of opening doors and developing creativity for the older generation was only the tip of the iceberg.
As one of youngest volunteers said whilst trying to edit in the room next to one of our sessions – “When are those guys going to stop laughing and be quiet? I need to work!“.Well, they were working too – looking at the world through older eyes can be a whole lot of fun – and surprisingly refreshing!
TVConwy Community Interest Company received £3,547 in 2015 as part of our Grab a Grant programme to provide training for older members of the community to use their mobile devices to take photos and videos to enhance their involvement in and representation on the community TV channel.