Tech Champs Update Summer 2020
The project was set up between student and staff volunteers at the University of Essex, known as the Vteam, and the Methodist circuit of churches in Colchester. Juliet from Citizens and Tomas from the Vteam met to thrash out the aims and likely work, and then the first meeting of the 2 groups followed on 23 April.
While the IT expertise is in the hands of the Vteam volunteers, it has proved to be extremely useful to have a reasonably competent champion in the churches, to encourage and mediate. There are seven churches in the Methodist circuit, three of which engaged with the project. The great majority of church members own and use devices, with a vast range of competence. A small number of members has never owned or used a computer, and we have had to accept that they probably never will. Our initial focus has been within the three engaged churches, and on those owning a device with internet connection. The initial aims of the project were to get as many church members as possible using Zoom, and to offer a bespoke one-to-one telephone service to church members who had problems using their devices.
The biggest piece of work has been the superb guides to getting onto and using Zoom from different devices, plus a beautiful guide to keeping safe online. Zoom has enabled the churches to offer several online events, including social and business meetings, bible studies and a fundraising quiz. These have been very popular and morale-boosting, particularly for carers and for those who are shielding alone. These people encouraged others to take part in events. Probably around 80 people (in the 3 churches) are now aware of the project, of the offer of individual assistance, and have benefitted indirectly by being in contact with as many friends as possible.
The take-up of individual assistance has been much smaller than was anticipated, but the help given, and the way it was done, was superb.
- Peter, in his 80’s and a carer, is now able to join the weekly Zoom coffee mornings, where he checks up on all his friends.
- Christine, living alone in a rural location and awaiting surgery, can now use WhatsApp and Zoom. She has been in touch visually with a friend in South Africa for the first time in 10 years, and also joins the coffee mornings.
- Our most techy person in church had problems with the quality of the audio when sharing his desktop within Zoom. A 10 minute conversation with the Tech Champions and he was sorted. Music and picture rounds in the quiz were possible due to knowledge gained from Tech Champions.