Simon Cook

Finalist category: Tech Volunteer of the Year

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Tech Volunteer of the Year Award, Winner, 2017

A digital champion for older people

“Through his immense knowledge of IT, combined with his determination, Simon has been able to help hundreds of elderly residents gain access to IT equipment and a Wi-Fi connection for the first time,” said Paula Blackledge from Digital Unite.

“He has done this by recycling old equipment, making grant applications, and developing a sense of community. Now some residents are happy to share Wi-Fi with their neighbours. His computer clubs also provide ongoing support to these residents to allowing them to build their confidence online.”

Simon Cook started volunteering for Centra Group five years ago. Since then this digital champion has managed to set-up IT equipment in 52 sheltered housing schemes across London, and as far-a-field as Norfolk and Telford.

His achievements are astounding, and are driven by his absolute determination and perseverance to use tech for good. In the beginning, it was difficult to get elderly residents involved in the IT projects, they were wary of him and the new technology. But, he has won them over and now runs a computer club four days a week that supports more than 30 people.

Julia the scheme Manager at Kestrel Court where Simon runs his weekly club said: “Simon has been so amazing to work with, he is so kind and generous with his time and his patience is never-ending. Kestrel Court now has amazing tech. All the residents are interested now and know how to use all their equipment. It has been an amazing journey for my clients, and myself, learning so much from him.”

With Simon’s help one resident used the internet to see a picture of his father’s grave in Scotland. The last time he had been there, he was a boy. Together, they were able to contact the people looking after the grave. As a result, they sent him a current picture to show it was still being cared for. Its this kind of extra effort that makes him popular with everyone.

Neil Willington, Volunteer Services Manager at Centra, really appreciates Simon’s work:

“Simon joined us as a volunteer shortly after London 2012 and his Olympic-size commitment continues to be an inspiration to his eager students, other volunteers and the staff he has worked alongside. He truly deserves the title ‘Digital Champion’.”

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AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards are organised by AbilityNet and BT and supported by a range of sponsors and partners.