Finalist category: Digital Volunteer of the Year Award
Digital Volunteer of the Year, Finalist, 2018
Digital Champion Volunteer at Sutton Women’s Centre and Stoneleigh Jobs Club.
Ann has been a Digital Champion Volunteer at Sutton Women’s Centre and Stoneleigh Job Club since she retired in 2012.
She runs two weekly computer sessions supporting over 20 people per month, planning, advertising and fundraising, as well as managing the community website for Stoneleigh Job Club and she’s a hardworking Trustee. Ann’s approach, much commented by her colleagues on both projects, has been as mentor, coach and friend.
She supports people going through life-changing events, whether through redundancy or career change at the job club, or regularly at the centre, supporting women who can be very vulnerable due to domestic and coercive abuse. These are often the hardest group of people to engage in IT, but potentially it’ll be those who will experience the greatest improvements in their wellbeing by improving their digital skills.
Councillor Peter Webb (Founder of Stoneleigh Job Club) who has worked very closely with Ann, says:
“Ann is a prodigious worker. Throughout the last three years she has been a major contributor to the success of the job club and her name is always mentioned in feedback from clients. She is a truly amazing individual, and I cannot speak highly enough of her total dedication and preparedness to go beyond the call of duty in everything she does.”
Liz McGarry, Sutton Women’s Centre Manager, says:
“Ann believes that Technology has become an integral part of all our lives and will enhance women’s livelihood in many ways. Ann has worked extremely hard to promote our Wednesday Open House group, she gently encourages those that come in, to pop up and see her in the computer suite. Many people coming to the Open House arrive having seen posters and flyers that Ann has designed and distributed throughout the borough of Sutton”
Access to a computer and the internet is a big barrier for many of Ann’s learners, and at the Women’s Centre she has tirelessly fundraised to make sure the computer suite is kept up-to-date and running efficiently. She has also implemented an appointments system that has enabled the centre to help more women.
Ann recalls one of her most rewarding experiences:
“I was helping a woman who’d completely lost her self-confidence particularly with her computing skills, and as a result lost touch with her only daughter. By creating a Facebook account and teaching her the basics, she tracked her daughter in Austria. Absolutely thrilled, a few weeks later we set up Skype account and I showed her the basics of how to connect. The next week she arrived at the centre in tears and with a bunch of flowers, so happy she’d managed a 2-hour Skype session with her daughter. Now she’s a different person, she’s competent with her emails, keeps in touch with friends, writes letters, and reaps the benefits of being online.”
Ann is someone who truly loves what she does and is always willing to share her experiences and help others. No task is beyond her capabilities at these two small grassroots organisations; she is a trustee, secretary, web author, leaflet producer and distributor, mentor and friend!