Rosie Martin, Volunteering Coordinator at RNIB, talks about the recent awards that celebrated the life-changing work of technology volunteers in the charity sector.
‘Tech for good’ is an area that is gathering momentum, with more and more start-ups, charities, governments and individuals setting up projects and creating innovations that harness the powers of tech to benefit humankind. The Tech4Good Awards were set up by national charity AbilityNet to recognise organisations and individuals who use digital technology to improve the lives of others.
RNIB nominated Christine Dodds (pictured with Online Today Coordinator Philip Wake) for the ‘Tech Volunteer of the Year Award,’ one of nine categories that formed this year’s competition. Christine, from Morpeth in Northumbria, is one of RNIB’s 700 hundred incredible volunteers who visit customers in their homes to help them get the most out of technology. She helps people with sight loss in her local community set up new devices and explore accessibility settings.
Christine was nominated because her incredible drive and energy have seen her rapidly expand her volunteering role to become a one-woman force for tech for good in the North East. Initially a home-visit volunteer, she identified the need for group technology learning sessions, which she has gone on to lead, covering anything from specialist assistive devices like Orcam to advice on how to use Facebook.
Christine was born with nystagmus and has also been diagnosed with glaucoma after developing cataracts. After attending an Online Today event when she was on holiday in the Lake District, Christine immediately impressed the session’s host Philip. He said: “Christine was already using a smartphone and talked with enthusiasm about its benefits for visually impaired people. I suggested volunteering to Christine because I felt she communicated this passion very well and would be great at promoting the benefits of technology as well as helping teach people to get to grips with using them effectively.”
Online Today is a digital skills project funded by The Big Lottery and led by RNIB to help people with sight or hearing loss get online. The technology volunteers are a vital part of the project, supporting people with their own devices in a one-to-one setting, and Christine is doing stellar work spreading her skills with accessible digital tech. She says: “I enjoy using technology and I was a nurse for 26 years so I just like helping people. I feel it’s important to keep abreast of technology and how it works.”
The Tech4Good awards ceremony took place on 11 July in London. It was a lively and inspiring afternoon with over 200 digital enthusiasts coming together to celebrate the positive power of tech. Christine was up against some very stiff competition, and while she didn't bag an award, she's still a winner to us! We are so pleased that she made the shortlist, as over 30 nominations were submitted in her category. The person that took the coveted title of ‘Tech Volunteer of the Year’ was Simon Cook, a volunteer with a housing association who has set up IT equipment in 52 sheltered housing schemes across London and runs learning sessions for older residents.
RNIB is looking for more volunteers all across the UK, so if you’d like to be on the front line of tech for good, why not become an technology volunteer? They welcome IT experts, internet enthusiasts, smartphone fans and gadget lovers. You don’t need to be a tech guru to get involved. Volunteers also help RNIB coordinate and organise their services. If you believe in the power of technology to transform lives, please phone the volunteer recruitment team on 01733 375 450, email [email protected] or apply directly online to become a technology volunteer.