Charity ‘Hot Seat’ – Hackney Silver Surfers

Lucy Hayim | 24 February 15

Interview with Rick from Hackney Silver Surfers :

Hackney Silver Surfers

1. Hackney Silver Surfers? What is your mission? :

Hackney Silver Surfers is a free service delivered by Age UK London to help teach older people how to use computers, the internet and digital technology. It is really important for people to have a place to socialise, which reduces isolation. Access to computers is a great way or excuse for them to come together. The service has been running for 11 years and enables service users to do something useful and of their interests.

2. How does Benefacto help Hackney Silver Surfers achieve these aims?:

Benefacto sends professional volunteers to Hackney Silver Surfers. This is useful when sessions are full and even more useful when assisting with more tricky tasks, like helping volunteers to retrieve passwords. There is also a personal connection built up with the volunteer and service user.

3. Benefacto provide you with Corporate Volunteers; if you had one request from the Corporate World, what would it be? :

It would be great to be supplied with second hand laptops, once they have become surplus to requirement. As they are portable, we can give them to our users to take home. Also, more sponsorship will enable Hackney Silver Surfers to increase the quality of the service it provides for service users.

4. Have short-employee volunteers worked well for Hackney Silver Surfers? :

Short –term employee volunteering has been successful with Hackney Silver Surfers because we are sent competent volunteers who get really stuck in.

Over the summer my partner was unfortunately called into hospital and I was awake through the night. I was also recovering from a broken leg and when I went to Hackney Silver Surfers in the morning I really wasn’t really up to delivering a session.

The volunteers were fantastic: they ‘took over’ the morning session, knew exactly what was required of them and did a really good job of delivering it. They enjoyed themselves so much they stayed for the afternoon too! Without them we’d have really struggled.

Fortunately my partner was fine so we celebrated with a glass of champagne!

5. What type of things have you got employee volunteers doing? :

Employee volunteers engage in a range of things. From providing 1-2-1 support on using computers for recreational reasons, to helping people complete business plans or write CVs. 1-2-1 are great use to Jobseekers who do not come for recreational reasons and offer great assistance to these service users in tackling issues associated with Universal Job match.

6. What skills do you think professional volunteers bring to Hackney Silver Surfers? :

Professional volunteers bring different skills to Hackney Silver Surfers. This can be problem solving skills being confident in their ability to work things out, or management skills taking over sessions. They also possess a high level of IT skills and CV writing skills.

7. What do you think volunteers get out of volunteering with Hackney Silver Surfers? :

We always find lots for volunteers to do to make sure they leave with a good sense of achievement. They get the opportunity to meet an unfamiliar challenge by talking to people they would not meet normally. They embrace the cultural diversity by building an instant rapport with everyone. In all, they take part in a useful contribution of things to do.

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Lucy looks after all of the amazing charities that Benefacto partners with in London. She also makes sure each and every volunteer is matched to a rewarding charity opportunity where their skills can have a real impact. If you’re a charity who’d like to find out more about working with Benefacto and our fantastic volunteers contact her at

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