3 min read
Never too old to learn
At Deloitte Ireland, we're always asking ourselves what we can do better and how we can make an impact on our clients, people and society. Our volunteers always want to go above and beyond, to make a real difference. One such volunteer, Niall Kelly, a senior consultant within the Consulting team, was already very passionate about making a difference in the local community and wanted to know how he could bring that difference to Deloitte.
Niall's keen eye observed that there was a gap in the type of volunteering programmes on offer in Deloitte Ireland, and that there were no initiatives in place with a focus on elderly people, whom he thinks are often overlooked, especially when it comes to advances in technology. He wanted to close that gap, and make a difference in the lives of the elderly.
Niall took (age) action! He realised that today's technology, something that Deloitte people are very comfortable and acquainted with, can often prove an obstacle to older people, causing them to become excluded from daily habits and tasks that come naturally to others. In 2016, Niall suggested to the Corporate Responsibility team that Deloitte should partner with the charity Age Action, and match our experienced employees with older learners to teach them basic computer and technology skills.
Building confidence to embrace technology
With the support of the CR team, he implemented the first six-week programme, consisting of weekly one-on-one lunchtime sessions between our volunteers and the learners. From day one, the informal sessions provided a comfortable environment to allow the learners, who often lack confidence when it comes to using computers, tablets and mobile phones, to embrace technology at their own pace. In FY19, we completed our seventeenth block of six-week classes since its introduction in 2016.
The Deloitte Age Action programme is now fully embedded in Ireland's WorldClass initiative, our global ambition to have an impact on 50 million futures by 2030 and provide access to opportunity and education.
What's more, it is currently the most popular volunteering programme at Deloitte Ireland. Over 160 elderly learners have come through our doors and an equal amount of Deloitte volunteers have been involved in the programme to date.
Feedback from participants and volunteers alike has told us that the programme benefits both the learner and the volunteer. Teaching older people new skills positively enriches their lives and provides them with increased confidence when using technology. Day-to-day activities like keeping in contact with friends and family, banking or online shopping are now that little bit easier for the participants. Without this programme they might never have had the opportunity to improve their computer literacy skills in a supportive environment.
The experience gives our volunteers the opportunity to have meaningful conversations with an older generation. While they are making a tangible impact on people in our community, the life stories and experiences that the participants share throughout the sessions are hugely interesting and informative for our volunteers. In addition, the sessions are an important reminder that we really are never too old to learn.
Niall's actions have definitely made a difference, and in making that difference, he has encouraged many more of us to get on board and do so too!
Feedback from volunteers:
"My Tuesday sessions with Age Action were definitely the highlight of my week for the duration of the course. I could see immediately how much this programme was benefitting my student. His confidence with computers grew each time we met and that had an impact on so many other things in his life. The new skills were really making so many tasks easier for him and he was so appreciative of it! I too learnt so much from him - how to be patient, how to be a better listener and how to be company to an older person. I would never have thought that we would share similar interests and have so much to talk about. It was a very enjoyable and hugely positive experience."
Feedback from a learner:
"Dear members of Deloitte,
From top echelon, to most humble, I wish to say how grateful I am for the accommodation and assistance you afforded Age Action and its "Golden Oldies" to enable us to upgrade our technological skills. In my case, it was the iPhone, the 'i' representing 'idiot'. I will be ever grateful to Jessie, the girl who helped me…"