Seniors in Gifhorn get access to the digital world

Joint Prize 2023

Seniors in Gifhorn get access to the digital world

Updated: 04/02/2023 07:30

| Reading time: 5 minutes

Siegfried Reich (right) is one of the early volunteer technology ambassadors and is rummaging through the TEBO case with project coordinator Ralf Überheim (district adult education center).

Siegfried Reich (right) is one of the early volunteer technology ambassadors and is rummaging through the TEBO case with project coordinator Ralf Überheim (district adult education center).

Photo: Reiner Albring / FMN

In Gifhorn, more than 30 certified and volunteer technology ambassadors help older people use smartphones and tablets.

“You wouldn’t believe how quickly word spreads that you are TEBO,” says Siegfried Reich with a smile. The 72-year-old from Gifhorn has been there for well over a year as a technology ambassador, TEBO for short, traveling. He started with around 30 other volunteers between the ages of 45 and 75 so that the older generation is not completely left behind digitally. Reich has experienced how great the need for assistance among seniors is, both in the private and in the voluntary sector.

The former senior VW employee is on the road as a TEBO for more than 15 hours a week. “Originally, I agreed four hours with my wife,” but the needs of the elderly, especially when dealing with Smartphone, tablet or PC would have increased his commitment quickly. In one year he helped up to 100 people to deal with the pitfalls of the digital world.

The “Technology Ambassador” project started in 2021

And it was mostly fun and frustration that went hand in hand. Reich, who has been a volunteer since he was 16: “It’s just a nice feeling to be able to help someone. My biggest successes as TEBO include two groups that we really have fun in, that can now send emails themselves, even if it still happens by mistake sometimes.” This is for some people Digital and internet nerd hard to imagine, but there are people who just have a hard time with it.

From the point of view and experience of the technology ambassador, there are far too many. It’s just a mountain of work that you can’t handle and that occasionally causes frustration. Ralf Überheim cautiously estimates the size of the target group in the city and district of Gifhorn at around 9,000 people. The expert adviser District adult education center (KVHS) Gifhorn coordinates the project, which started in September 2021. “As the KVHS, we discovered it in Gelsenkirchen and then realized that the senior citizens’ advisory board had taken on the problem with isolated solutions. The Advisory Board then quickly became the political interface that we needed, also to receive grants,” says Überheim.

Individual training courses are offered for the seniors

Some members of the Senior Advisory Board were then also the first volunteers who proved themselves to be trained and certified TEBOs hired out When their commitment became public in the press, Reich and other comrades-in-arms were immediately involved when it came to bringing people closer to the brave new Android or Apple world. According to Überheim, it is all about how the seniors want to use their cell phones and the like. There are no courses, but rather individual training in the smallest possible groups.

The goals for success are mostly the same. “Whatsapp, email and Google,” says Reich. “The older ones are very suspicious and believe that they are always being cheated on the Internet. Often the advice on where the next trustworthy PC shop in Gifhorn is that you can turn to is helpful.” In general, the TEBOs want “to form a basis so that you can continue working independently”.

Groups can also invite a TEBO

This often starts with confidence-building measures and Reich’s tip: “Don’t let all the negative headlines drive you crazy. The seniors usually have no confidence in themselves and in the digital world. They think they can make ends meet without digital.” The fact that this usually does not work becomes clear when making an appointment in the town hall or with bank matters. At TWhen it comes to online banking, however, the TEBOs are left out. “That’s far too delicate and ultimately the financial institutions have to pay for it,” emphasizes Überheim.

Because the (digital) security of the seniors is very important to the KVHS and the technology ambassadors, who have the appropriate ID. For example, individuals are always visited in pairs. But Groups of up to 12 people can also book a TEBO invite, although this is usually very challenging for them due to widely varying needs as well as hardware and software.

The need is also challenging. In Brome and Rühen, for example, the offer is fully booked until mid-2024. But the KVHS is up to the task. “By the end of the year we would like to find 50 more technology ambassadors.” That is from the point of view of Reich and his volunteer fellow campaigners also urgently needed, because “the digital world treats seniors arrogantly. Either they come along somehow or they are completely out.”

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