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Anyone wanting to improve their digital skills to stay in touch with friends and family can book for free, one to one help ahead of Christmas, says Dorset Council.

The authority has a network of 75 volunteers who run free, one-to-one computer help sessions in libraries and other venues across the county. They can help with everything from switching on a computer and using the internet safely, to managing email and learning to use video calls.

Rita, a learner in her 80s who lives in Verwood, has taken all she has learnt from her Digital Champion one step further and is now teaching her great-grandchildren how to create photo albums.

Rita said: ‘My digital skills were very “hit or miss” when I started. I had a new tablet but I didn’t understand which buttons to press and on a scale of 10 I scored about one! I heard about help from the Digital Champion at Verwood Library and I thought I could only improve!

‘My friends and family were very knowledgeable and I felt left behind. My great granddaughter would take lots of photos but I couldn’t join in. But now I am taking lovely photos of family and also of my holiday cruises and storing them in different albums and sharing them – and they can’t do that! They think I am quite clever – I am one step ahead!’

Rita is also using her Digital Champion’s expertise to help her prepare for the years ahead, in case she finds she is less able to get out. She has learnt how to do online shopping, how to use the doctor’s website to order medication and can now renew and order books from the library.

Rita added: ‘My next challenge is to keep in touch more regularly with my friend in Australia. I haven’t seen her for many years and I wish I could do Skype – we ring each other once a year.” Rita’s friend already uses Skype to keep in touch with family in the UK, so Rita is planning to be skyping her soon!

Rita added: ‘It is so much easier to learn when you have one to one support and it is free. The Digital Champions help you at your own pace and they are very patient.’

If you would like help to keep in contact digitally with friends and family this Christmas, take and share photos, book a doctor’s appointment, renew your library books or just switch on the computer then please call 01305 221048 or visit your local library and we will match you with a volunteer in your area.

Get help with computers with Superfast Dorset https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/business-consumers-licences/superfast-dorset/getting-online.aspx

LearnMyWay A couple of examples are – using email – https://www.learnmyway.com/courses/using-email/ or how to use GP services online – https://www.learnmyway.com/courses/gp-services-online-a-how-to-guide/

For anyone who uses a computer and wants to practice email or look up GP services themselves, could use “LearnMyWay” which is provided by a national digital inclusion charity.

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