Computer screens and hard drives recycled from old Napier City Council stocks have been used to take out some of the fear and uncertainty some older people may have about the advancing computer age.

To make some of its members more computer-savvy, Napier Age Concern has set up a new technology service - recognising that many older folk may have access to computers but no idea how to use them.

"Families often give them second-hand computers or laptops, which is lovely, but many of them have no idea where to start," Napier Age Concern manager Sarah Potter said. The organisation set up a community computer centre at their branch in Marewa which was given the "enter" instruction by Napier Mayor Bill Dalton, who opened it last week.

The centre is made up of five computers which are linked, and which have been pre-loaded with accessible features and desktop software for easy use.


"We hope this project will make it easier for our seniors to access and use technology," Ms Potter said.

"It will allow them to gain more confidence to connect with family and friends using social media such as Facebook, and at this point most don't have any experience when it comes to using technology - it's a whole different language to them."

The new programme came about after a working group was set up as part of the Napier Connects project and involved the council and other partners.

They looked at ways to make it simpler for senior citizens to use the internet and increase social interaction with others.

"Especially those citizens who were living alone or some distance from their families and friends."

A special software programme was specifically developed and a pilot group of six Age Concern clients were used to trial the software which had been built by the Community Conduit group. Several local young people were being trained to provide technical support for the pilot group.

Ms Potter said there had been an "overwhelmingly" positive response to the first training session, and said if the responses continue to be positive others were likely to be set up around the city.