Reducing social isolation with Tech and Tea - a volunteers story


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volunteer champion

A couple of years ago I took a break from my career in business development for global health care companies to pursue something for me and my community. I had a successful and rewarding career, working with influential figures in the area and specialising in medical devices and Digital Health. I achieved a tremendous amount of professional and personal gratification from this work in addition to numerous performance awards. However after experiencing a culture of bullying at work I decided to take a break in order to give back to the Greater Manchester community.  My philosophy in life has always been that small contributions can have the big impacts and I felt that volunteering was a way to live that philosophy. After making this choice I soon began volunteering through Salford CVS as a Wellbeing Champion on the Tech and Tea project where I inspire, support and educate individuals over the age of 65 to develop or enhance their digital skills.

Wellbeing Champion Volunteers may take part in a variety of projects across Salford, engaging with older people and focusing on their wellbeing. This might be through supporting older people to take part in a community activity, having conversations with older people about wellbeing or filling in Wellbeing Plans with older people. The Wellbeing Champions project is delivered by Inspiring Communities Together and Salford CVS in partnership. Volunteer Wellbeing Champions also support projects associated with Salford Community Leisure, Trading Standards at Salford City Council, Care Homes across Salford, and other voluntary sector organisations and local community organisations.

The project was developed as part of the strategic city wide Salford Together initiative aiming to help those who are well and healthy to stay active so they stay healthier for longer and to support those who have care needs to improve their quality of life and independence. The overall focus is on improving the health and wellbeing of everyone across the city by having social and health care work together for and with Salford residents.

Wellbeing Champions can volunteer on the following projects:

  • Tech & Tea- Assisting older people to enjoy basic IT skills courses which take place in local community venues. Delivered in partnership with Inspiring Communities Together.
  • Scam Mail Home Visits- Acting on information from Trading Standards at Salford City Council and with their support, this project involves raising awareness of scam mail with local residents who may be at risk. Many of these residents are older people who may benefit from Wellbeing conversations.
  • Care Homes Project- Supporting older people living in residential care homes to engage in social activities such as arts classes and engaging them in wellbeing conversations.
  • Community Outreach- Engaging local older people in conversations about wellbeing at local community venues, events or regular stall at Gateway Centres
  • Postural Stability and Falls Prevention- Assisting older people to attend Falls Prevention exercise classes at Salford Community Leisure and carrying out Wellbeing Plans with attendees.

I was recently supporting an 82 year old student on the Tech and Tea project who was very apprehensive and scared of the technology when he attended his first lesson and didn’t even want to switch on the laptops and tablet devices. But by lesson four he was busy sending emails to his fellow students and looking up and reading about where he was based in World War II which he found fascinating. To see this gentleman progress during the course and to observe his positive transformation towards technology was so rewarding and quite emotional.

I have watched students discover information on the internet about their hobbies and interests such as gardening, crocheting, embroidery and classic cars. We have enabled other students to email or Skype their grandchildren and great-grandchildren who are travelling the world. In these ways and many more I really believe the Tech and Tea courses can help reduce social isolation and the risk of this leading to depression.

For some students, the course has been a reunion as they grew up on the same street or attended the same school and haven’t seen each other for many years! Other students may connect over having worked for the same company or industry, even if they have been retired for 20 years. The Tech and Tea courses definitely become a social occasion for students and for volunteers. Personally, it has given me the wonderful opportunity of engaging with older people and learning about their challenging and interesting life experiences.

I recently received feedback from the end of a course and these two comments made me smile and reminded me that the smallest contributions can have the biggest impact:

‘I can now email, it’s a whole new different world that has opened up for me, I can now shop online and book train tickets’.

‘Thank you for your patience and perseverance’.

celebration event photo

In January 2018 I was presented with an award from Peter Connor, Ceremonial Mayor of Salford at the Salford Community Voluntary Services celebration event for committing over 50 hours to the amazing Tech and Tea project. I also volunteer at The Nicky Alliance Day Centre, a day centre for the elderly.

Interested in volunteering?

If you are interested in becoming a Volunteer Wellbeing Champion or finding out more get in touch with Jessica or Michael at Salford CVS on 0161 787 7795 or email

Salford CVS
Belinda, Tech and Tea Volunteer

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Salford CVS & Volunteer Centre
Registered address 
The Old Town Hall 
5 Irwell Place 
Salford, M30 0FN

Tel: 0161 787 7795 


Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; providing specialist information, advice, development support and opportunities for influence and collaboration.

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