Aberdeen's silver surfers are digital wizards

Silver surfers in the Silver City have been demonstrating their super-fast skills to two local MSPs who called into their weekend class in the Castlegate.

City’s elderly citizens take the fast road to open up new world

Silver surfers in the Silver City have been demonstrating their super-fast skills to two local MSPs who called into their weekend class in the Castlegate.

The Salvation Army Citadel is home to the Silver City Surfers, an innovative charity bringing digital skills to over-55s in Aberdeen and the North-east of Scotland.

MSPs Maureen Watt and Kevin Stewart joined BT’s head of public affairs Louise Humphrey to witness how the installation of super-fast broadband as part of the Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband programme has transformed everything the class does.

Co-ordinator Liz Hunter said: “With the fibre broadband connection, the internet experience is dramatically improved. For example, the quality of the video on Skype or FaceTime is significantly better. It makes no difference how many people are online at the same time – everyone can still enjoy the same terrific high speed connection.

“Fibre broadband is helping older people stay connected with their family and friends, even if they live thousands of miles apart. It also helps everyone stay on top of the news, explore their interests and learn new skills, as well as access government services and shop around for the best deals for just about anything. A world of possibilities is just a click away, and fibre broadband is making the whole experience even better.”

Surfer Pam Lawrence, who received an iPad from her family for her 80th birthday, said: “It’s wonderful. Now I am able to have so much more contact with my daughter and three grandchildren, who live in Washington DC, than I ever could before.”

Regular visitor Chris Wright (67) suffered a stroke several years ago and had to re-learn to speak. “As I struggle with using a keyboard, I find the voice recognition feature on my iPad very useful indeed. This means I can use email and so on, without having to type anything.

“I am now starting to use Skype and love the idea of being able to chat face to face with friends around the world. Another huge benefit is being able to use iPlayer and catch up on TV programmes at whatever time suits me, rather than when the programme is scheduled. With fibre broadband, streaming TV and films is instant. ”

Margaret Maxwell, who’s in her seventies, finds her iPad makes a difference in a vast number of ways. She said: “A wonderful benefit is being able to borrow library books online. I have downloaded an app called ‘Overdrive’. Now I can choose library books, which are then downloaded to my iPad, from which I can read them wherever I am. This is a big advantage to me, as I used to visit the library regularly, but I am not quite so mobile now, so it is brilliant being able to use the library service without having to travel.

“I am even using the cloud – I have uploaded all my photos onto Flickr. So now I know that all my photos are safely stored. High–speed fibre broadband will make it even easier for everyone to lead a full life, staying closely connected to their loved ones and pursuing their interests. Thanks to Silver City Surfers, I am able to take full advantage of the digital age.”

BT’s Louise Humphrey added: “We have been truly inspired by the Silver City Surfers who are now doing all kinds of amazing things that wouldn’t have been possible with basic broadband. Today I’ve seen at first hand the positive impact that good digital connections make to the quality of our elderly citizens’ lives.”

Kevin Stewart, MSP for Aberdeen Central, said: “Silver City Surfers offer an invaluable service that allows our older generation to get the most out of the internet and perhaps even pass some of their wisdom on through blogs or forums.

“Superfast broadband will allow them to browse without having to wait as long for loading and buffering and to get even more from their online adventures.”

North East MSP Lewis Macdonald said: ““Digital technology opens new doors for millions of people, but it is really important that nobody gets left behind. Silver City Surfers show you’re never too old to learn new skills, and they have been really imaginative in the way they’ve promoted digital skills for older people.

“The way they take their message to people in communities across the city is impressive too. Going online can bring you closer to your family and friends, no matter where you live. It is also important in helping people access services online.”

Sara Budge, Programme Director of Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband, who lives in Aberdeen said: “It’s fantastic to see the programme being able to help inspirational people like Margaret, Chris, Pam and Liz. It really demonstrates how everyone no matter how old or young you may be is starting to benefit from fibre broadband.”

The Citadel was upgraded to fast fibre broadband thanks to the £410m Digital Scotland Superfast Broadband initiative. Funding partners include the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the UK Government through Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), local authorities and the European Regional Development Fund as well as BT.

For further information about this news release please contact the BT Scotland press office on 0800 085 0660. All our news releases can be read at www.bt.com/newscentre