Helping seniors stay connected during COVID-19 with LEEP Tech Mate

Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman is encouraging local seniors to stay connected during the pandemic by getting help from a Tech Mate.

"The current crisis how shown us all how important it is to get our heads around new technology, not only for remaining social while keeping our distance, but to access services during the lockdown," said Ms Templeman.

Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman speaks with Blue Mountains Tech Mate volunteer Phil Greenidge.

Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman speaks with Blue Mountains Tech Mate volunteer Phil Greenidge.

"But for some residents, and particularly older people, mastering new technology can be confronting. That's where the LEEP Tech Mate program can help.

"This free, one-on-one service sees volunteers teach people everything from sending a text on a smartphone to learning how to shop online.

"It works at the user's pace, so it doesn't matter whether you pick something up really quickly or feel you need more time to master it.

"A Tech Mate can help you use your phone to send and receive pictures, set you up to use email, teach you to use the internet to find recipes, knitting patterns or DIY projects, or help you create a social media account.

"If you are isolating or worried about going out to the shops, a Tech Mate can teach you how to shop for groceries online, or pay a bill and do your banking."

Ms Templeman recently visited Blue Mountains Tech Mate Phil Greenidge, who has been helping seniors in the Lower Mountains get online.

Mr Greenidge, who was involved with technology during the last decade of his working life, became a Tech Mate more than two years ago after seeing an ad for the program.

"I thought, this looks like a bit of a challenge for me and looks as though it's something that's beneficial to the community," he said.

"[The program] is aimed at seniors because the majority of seniors in Australia, research has shown, are not digitally engaged.

"The way the program works is you can come along and want to talk about any application on any device on any operating system.

"So people might come along with a smartphone, might come along with a tablet, laptop computer, or even a desktop computer, and they will want to learn anything.

"It's not a program where we say, 'this is what you must learn and this is the sequence you must learn it in'. What we say to them is, 'what do you want to learn and the pace in which they want to learn is their own pace'."

Ms Templeman said that with the help of the patient Tech Mate volunteers, program participants had progressed to doing complex activities such as making a much-loved music collection digital, or even using Google Maps.

"You don't know what you don't know, and Tech Mates can help open up a whole new world that allows many people to not only get the essentials done in these uncertain times, but develop new interests and discover many life hacks," said Ms Templeman.

"Many older people are given new technology like an iPad from children or grandchildren to stay in touch, but they simply don't know how to use it properly. Tech Mates can show you how to use that technology to its full advantage at your own pace."

Those interested in taking part in the Tech Mate program - or those with a family member who could benefit from it - should contact LEEP online via leep.ngo or call 4721 1866. Email hello@leep.ngo.