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It’s never too late to learn

Last month, Shenley Court Hall opened the doors of its computer suite to the local community as part of “Spring Online”.  This award-winning initiative makes it possible for people, often older people, to try out using computers and tablets and the internet, often for the first time.

This initiative, part of Digital Unite, saw the community centre become a hub for people with limited or no IT experience. Many residents dropped in and received friendly one to one tutoring on the basics of how to get online and what you can do once you are connected.

With national statistics revealing that almost three quarters of women aged 75 and over – two million people – have never been online, the interest received by local older residents was welcomed by BVT.

One of the volunteers on the day helping residents with IT support was Robbie Dalziel, aged 80. In his own words “it’s never too late to learn”. Robbie, who lives at Bournville Village Trust’s Christopher Taylor Court, one of BVT’s sheltered housing schemes for older people, has been providing IT support and training to fellow residents since he moved in several years ago.

Having retired at the age of 79 from a long career in engineering, Robbie has always had a passion for IT and technology. Self-taught, Robbie not only builds computers but also sets up Wi-Fi access as well as helping older people become familiar with modern communication tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype.

Fellow resident Dorothy Egan said; “Robbie has been wonderful. He has helped me get set up with my laptop which means I have been able to keep in touch with my daughter who lives in Kent.”  Dorothy, who struggles with getting out and about, has found getting online has opened up new opportunities. “I regularly buy things from QVC and have an account set up online which makes it really easy.

With national statistics revealing that almost three quarters of women aged 75 and over – two million people – have never been online, Robbie’s support to help people get online and become familiar with digital communication is welcomed by BVT.

Robbie has set up training courses and provides guides to help residents remember what to do. “I often forget how to do things as my memory isn’t quite as good as it used to be”, said Dorothy.

Robbie also writes and produces a newsletter for residents that help families feel connected with what is going on at Christopher Taylor Court.

Robbie added, “IT has moved on so fast but it offers a great way for older people to stay in touch and opens up a world of opportunity whether on a computer, laptop or tablet”

Encouraging older people to get connected has many benefits, especially in helping families keep in touch. Dorothy has a grandson in China and regularly keeps up to date with what he’s up to. Her daughter has even used Skype (the free video call service) to show Dorothy her home in Kent. Robbie has also used video and images to help residents share what goes on with family and friends using video too.

Following in his footsteps, Robbie’s 18 year old grandson has just started an advanced computer course and is hoping to follow the fine example set by his grandfather.

BVT plays an active role in supporting its local communities in getting online. They provide Wi-Fi access in most of their community buildings. The  Community Centre at Shenley Court Hall is leased to Shenley Youth & Community Trust and it offers a fully equipped IT suite for local residents to use.

Commenting on Robbie’s support Andrew Griffiths, a Surveyor from BVT said;” We hope to provide more support and welcome Robby’s enthusiasm and knowledge. We understand the importance of online access, especially for older and more vulnerable residents and Robbie’s efforts have shown that it really is never too late to learn.”

BVT has a wide programme to support Digital Inclusion. If you would like to find out more about workshops and online access simply pop into Shenley Court Hall or visit us at 350 Bournville Lane and we will make sure we can get you connected.


Robbie Dalziel explains how to get on to SKYPE to fellow resident Dorothy Egan



BVT Older residents and Karen Turvey – Shenley Court Hall Manager

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