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Volunteering for Tech to Community Connect

Tanaya, tells us why she volunteers as a Tech Angel for Surrey Coalition of Disabled People and Action for Carers Surrey’s digital inclusion service. The service provides devices to those that need them or digital literacy training and confidence-boosting support to those that already have a device but struggle to use it.

The service is aimed at people who are at the highest risk of digital exclusion; people who are Disabled, people with a long-term health condition, people with mental ill-health, carers, older people and people from Black and minoritised ethnic groups. 

Tanaya begins the chat by explaining how she used to help her Grandmom access technology in India. In fact, she is still on hand to help her Grandmom access Netflix etc just via the phone rather than popping to see her.

Currently an international student at Royal Holloway university. Tanaya learned about the Tech Angel Volunteering scheme via another student at the university. She felt drawn to the role as the skills that a Tech Angel require are skills that come very naturally to her.

‘You don’t need to be a technical whizz. Everything I do to help the people that use the service are things that I already do for myself. For example, accessing podcasts, using zoom etc’

All Tech Angels receive 2 hours training prior to starting the volunteering role.  ‘I found it very useful, particularly the section on safeguarding’. Following the initial training, all Tech Angels volunteers are provided with a bank of training materials that they can access to help build on their existing skills or can use to help the people they are supporting. 

Tanaya explains that the role is really flexible. ‘When I’m on a break from university, I support more people and if I’m particularly busy with my studies, I support less people. You can choose how many people you are happy to support. On average, I volunteer 4-5 hours per week’.

Each time Tanaya is assigned somebody to support she’ll initially give the person a call. She’ll then arrange a mutually convenient time to visit them. She asks them to have a think about the support they require in advance so when they meet up they’re able to work through the list together.

Tanaya loves getting out and about. ‘It’s a great way to explore the local area and it helps me to feel part of the community’ ‘Many of the people that I support, live alone. I want to ensure that they have the technology to be able to connect with others and don’t become isolated’

When asked if she would recommend being a Tech Angel to other students she said ‘I really love it. I get to explore my local community; I’ve learned a lot from talking to people and hearing their stories. I have built good relationships with the people I support too’

‘I think volunteering has helped me to build news skills, I’ve had to problem solve and manage my workload. The experience will definitely help when I enter employment following my studies’

Thanks so much to Tanaya and all other Tech Angels, your help makes a huge difference to people and we couldn’t deliver this service without you!

For more information on how to register for the service or volunteer Tech to Community Connect Project « Surrey Coalition of Disabled People

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