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Compaid celebrates National Inclusion Week

National Inclusion Week is dedicated to championing inclusion and encourages people and organisations across the UK to make our world as accessible and inclusive of as many people as possible.  Throughout our digital skills training centre and on our community transport, uplifting our service users is at the core of our mission and every day, our teams provide support that enables every individual who turns to us for help to feel valued and respected as they learn or travel with us.   Jonathan, our Centre Co-ordinator, said about the week...  “Digital technology is a necessity for everything we do, and any of us take for granted that we jump online to order our food, book appointments, and pay our bills. At Compaid, we believe that our support enables those in need to learn basic skills to get online safely & understand how to navigate the world of online socialising safely.  “What's clear is that digital technology now refers to a new world of exciting opportunities, especially for some people who have physical or learning disabilities hoping to move into work or continue their education. By introducing programming & coding into our digital skills sessions, for example, it has proved to be an engaging and successful area for learners. Using this approach also improves literacy and numeracy skills, as programming languages require clear understanding and communications without using IT jargon.  “Additionally, for some of our learners, years of creative writing work has finally come to fruition through publication with Compaid’s support. One client, who is recovering from a stroke some years ago, has just published her third book, and recently said, ‘You’ve given me my life back’.”  As an organisation, our vision for disabled, older, and other vulnerable people is to help them realise their full potential and achieve better life outcomes, and National Inclusion Week highlights this and encourages us to continue doing so. 

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The Joy of Volunteering: Chris' Story

In this exclusive interview, we get to know more about Christine, affectionately known to us as Chris, and her life before and after volunteering for Compaid. Her past has given her insight and understanding to deal with vulnerability and loneliness, which influences her support of others.  “I have been volunteering for Compaid for over 20 years now, but before that, I was an auxiliary nurse, then a teacher, and regularly travelled to Africa with my late husband, Angus. He was a quantity surveyor, visiting several different areas for work, so we ended up moving around a lot.  “We lived in and travelled across Africa for 10 years, spending another 4 years in Mauritius before settling in Uganda where we set up our first house, overlooking the Karuma Falls, and where I had our two children in a Catholic missionary hospital. Every morning, we watched hippos tripping through our front garden to get a drink at the waterfalls. It was such a beautiful time of my life.”  Chris with a ’Beware of Elephants’ sign at Mikumi Game Port, Tanzania, 1979      Chris’ first house in Uganda          Angus at yacht club in Uganda, 1996      The view of the grass plains and watering holes, Uganda        After a lifetime of travel and service work, Chris has a deep understanding of the importance of care and community. Throughout my conversation, she emphasised the impact of her own loneliness and her need for a supportive community.  “I was an only child, and after becoming a widow, I now live on my own and know how the days can feel with no one to talk to. I no longer travel having given up driving, so I need a good community network to connect with. While volunteering at Compaid, I make a point of chatting with as many people as I can, because I know that a lot of the clients live on their own too, so I appreciate their need for friendship. Clients come to Compaid to learn and build friendships, and I am the same. After 20 years, you really get to know everyone well, and I look forward to seeing them every week.”  Chris’s bubbly nature never fails to bring a smile to people’s faces, especially as she dutifully carries out her 11 o’clock biscuit run. Her dedication brings joy and creates a welcoming atmosphere for everyone. She went on to say...  “Recently, I was given the opportunity to attend a learning disabilities awareness course, which after all these years is a nice refresher for me. So much has changed since my nursing auxiliary training, and with my inquisitive mind, I was interested to learn new ways to better support vulnerable people.”    “Community is crucial to challenging loneliness, and that is something I realised during the Covid pandemic. During that time, in lockdown, I found living alone became unbearably lonely. I never felt the need to talk to my neighbours before as I had Angus with me, but through this time, I realised there was a need for me to reach out to get to know my neighbours.  "I had the chance to walk up the road and safely talk to them, and now, whenever we see each other passing by, we all wave and have a chat, which is more important than I had realised. Being supported at Compaid through their service, this sense of friendship and community is so vital for so many, and volunteering with this charity, knowing I’m helping others, gives me a real sense of purpose.” 

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Let's Reflect on World Wide Web Day

Today, World Wide Web Day allows us to reflect on just how far we have come since the first website went live on August 6th, 1991. Compaid was founded in 1986, offering sessions for disabled people to learn how to use a basic computer. At this stage, the internet was not available to the public. Today, we provide a wide range of digital skills training including coding, programming, online banking, and educational courses.  “When the internet was first launched, many people at Compaid had a limited understanding of what benefits the internet could offer. As a brand-new resource, the extent of its possibilities were endless. “Our digital skills centre today is full of people learning how to set up online banking and email accounts, pursue creative activities including digital art design.” - Jonathan, Centre Co-Ordinator  Digital is increasingly becoming a necessity for what we do. It is how we communicate, how we consume our news, how we shop and how we entertain ourselves. Without the basic digital skills to use the internet, life becomes extremely challenging and can cause significant isolation for some vulnerable people. Today, the internet has made learning and acquiring information more accessible.   

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