Project information

Friendship Computer Network

Supporting vulnerable people over 65 with no IT experience through accessing cheap computers; we allocate volunteers who can install software, make sure the equipment is functioning, help clients get online and give basic training in their home.

April 2011 - March 2012

Charity information: Manor Gardens Welfare Trust

Manor Gardens Welfare Trust logo
  • Need


    Over 65s can face digital exclusion due to lack of access, affordability and sufficient knowledge base. With information, shopping, access to benefits and services being mediated by the internet, older people are at a disadvantage as a result of their lack of access to the web. Those older people who are unable to get out, who have little contact with peers or service providers are regularly missing out on benefits and services that could significantly increase their quality of life.


    The project will attempt to source free or low cost equipment or advise people on purchasing a computer. They will be matched with a volunteer who will support them in setting up access to the internet and give them basic training; the volunteer will be available on an on-going basis for trouble-shooting. In our pilot project clients established regular contact with family, researched benefits and services, got involved in local activities and did shopping online.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Give isolated older people access to computers in their home


    » Attempt to source reconditioned computers through local companies and business networks
    » Gather and disseminate information about second hand, low cost equipment

    What success will look like

    Success will be demonstrated by working with 20 older people and supporting them in acquiring a computer.

    Aim 2

    Give older people the confidence to use computers


    » Match clients with an IT volunteer who will visit weekly to get them up & running, provide training and then be available for trouble shooting

    What success will look like

    Success will be demonstrated through an initial questionnaire and a follow-up at 6 mthly intervals assessing confidence and skills of participants

    Aim 3

    Increase access to information, benefits and services


    » Support older people in accessing the internet through training and one-to-one support

    What success will look like

    Success will be demonstrated by a questionnaire at 6 & 12 mths after induction inquiring about access to information and use made of it.

    Aim 4

    Increase and maintain social contact


    » Volunteer support, training and information will enable older people to use email, skype and social networks

    What success will look like

    Success will be demonstrated by a questionnaire at 6 & 12 mths after induction inquiring about use of internet for social contact

  • Impact


    Access to a computer and confidence in using it will be of life-long benefit to our clients making a huge difference to their levels of independence, access to benefits and services, expenditure and, for many, will also increase their social contact and involvement in hobbies and activities, helping to keep them mentally alert. We will be able to assess their actual benefits at the end of 1 yr and assess potential life-long benefits through questionnaires and case studies.


    Lone working – safety assessment completed before volunteer begins
    Volunteers posing risk to client - CRB checks instigated & references required
    Volunteer competency – application form, checks on qualifications, relevant references, peer groups and regular supervision
    Safety of equipment, wiring, storage – clear task description for volunteer and feedback to coordinator
    Scams, viruses, identity theft – firewall installed, information & training about safe sites, precautions to take.


    Evaluation undertaken at 6 & 12 mths, reports compiled and sent to donors, regular newsletters containing case studies and quotes from service users provided. The project is willing to comply with any reporting schedule required by donor.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £16,874

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £9,600 Personnel Proportion of coordinator's salary and on-costs + sessional IT worker
      £1,000 Training Bi-monthly training for IT volunteers, room hire + refreshments
      £2,174 Infrastructure Proportion of costs of reception, admin staff, rent and services
      £2,450 Volunteers Recruitment, travel expenses
      £1,650 Office costs Computer consumables, stationery, postage, telephones and publicity

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Dunhill Medical Trust £5,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The project is located in the Manor Gardens Centre in north Islington. This is a multi-purpose centre providing health and social care services to a diverse population. The range of organisations in the Centre enable us to work collaboratively with the Mental Health Champions project, and the Advocacy service for refugees and asylum seekers amongst others, ensuring that we can reach the most vulnerable older people in our community.


    People over the age of 65 will benefit from this project.
    Islington is the 6th most deprived Local Authority in England (the Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004). 55% of over 65s in the borough live on income related benefits, the 3rd highest proportion in the UK. Life expectancy is lower than average in Islington. Death rates from smoking, heart disease, stroke, and cancers are high. It is a diverse area with 43% of the population belonging to a black or minority ethnic group.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    The MGWT has a long record of providing health and social care services having been established in 1913; it has adapted to need and expanded its services to encompass work with migrant communities, pre-school children, vulnerable & isolated people with disabilities, with mental health problems or long term conditions. Collaboration between the projects is a strong feature of MGWT. The Friendship Network has piloted a computer project for older people in 2010 and has the relevant experience.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Avril Baker

    Friendship Network Coordinator with 4 yrs experience of volunteer management and over 30 years in the voluntary sector.

    Sarah Aylward

    Lead IT volunteer and member of the Advisory Group; retired IT consultant and manager.

    Phillip Watson

    CEO of Manor Gardens Centre with overview of centre's diverse projects and with a brief to maximise internal and external collaboration.