For 86 year old Nelson man Gordon McIndoe, learning how to use a computer has been one of the best things he has done in his retirement.
But SeniorNet, the organisation that has taught him and many others, is in danger of closing if they do not boost their membership numbers.
SeniorNet is a community training network that supports and motivates people aged 50+ to enjoy and use technology in their everyday lives.
Members learn how to do everything from simple word-processing, sending emails and searching the internet to learning how to use tablets, smart phones and digital cameras.
But with a massive drop in funding from the Tertiary Education Commission – from $4,814 in 2016 to just $225 this year – they need more members to stay open, and are encouraging people to come along to their open day this Saturday.
Gordon says he joined Nelson SeniorNet 20 years ago, and hasn’t looked back since.
“In those days it was held in the St John’s Church Hall and you didn’t have to have a computer,” he says.
“The first time I saw something coming out of the printer, I was hooked – it was magic in those days.”
Gordon now owns his own notebook and says he has been “gutsy”, enrolling in many of the 46 courses they offer, including PowerPoint, emailing and how to use Trade Me.
But he says the main focus of his computer use is for family history research, which he has been “addicted to” since 1976.
Another member, Helen Hills, says the SeniorNet courses are affordable, fun and you can start learning at any level.
“I have been to a few other computer courses in the past, but they weren’t very good for newbies,” she says.
“I think as soon as you say ‘computer course’ people get scared – but it’s definitely not like that here, it’s just fantastic. You feel like you’re really connected as a member.
“The classes here are small and relaxed and I have learned so much more. The tutors are so happy to help and we always stop for a cup of tea and a biscuit half- way through.
“I just wish a lot more people would come.”
The SeniorNet open day will be held this Saturday, 22nd April, from 10am – 3pm at Pioneer Park, 11 Hastings St, Nelson.
At the open day there will be tours of the learning centre, computer, tablet and smart phone demonstrations, information on courses and timetables, experts on hand to answer questions and membership forms for people who would like to join.
For further information on SeniorNet, visit www.seniornetnel son.org.nz/ or call 548 9401.