Community award for innovative 'Connect-Silver Surfers' project

19 May 2011

A forward-thinking church community has been awarded first prize at a National awards ceremony for their innovative project, Connect-Silver Surfers. Launched in September 2010 as part of Age UK’s ITea and Biscuits week, the initiative provides IT training, support and advice to the over 50s in the local community, helping them get to grips with the internet, email and computer technicalities.


Connect-Silver Surfers, which is run by Rhiwderin Tabernacle Chapel offers twice-weekly sessions for groups of between 12 and 20 attendees with the help of fellow community volunteers who provide the technology support and tuition. 


Designed to not only connect individuals with technology, the project also aims to engage and inspire the attendees to connect with their families and friends who might live far away, as well as make connections with others attending the sessions. 


The award-winning project helps members of the younger generation engage with the older generation during the tutorials. The ethos of the project also extends to helping people connect with their faith by engaging in conversations with the Pastor and other church members at the sessions.


Connect-Silver Surfers was first set up with the help of a local council grant, this initial donation enabled the project to source a set of recycled computers from a Christian computer company albeit for a very good price. Further funding for the project comes from attendee donations whilst the running costs for the project are contributed by the Chapel.   


Pastor, David Richards, was on hand to receive the award for the project at the 40th Annual Assembly of the Congregational Federation in Edgbaston, he said: “We are thrilled to be awarded such a fantastic prize for our Connect- Silver Surfers project. It's great that the idea has been recognised nationally and we hope that others will be inspired to be creative in their outreach.


“We hope to use the money to connect more of the older generation with new technology, connecting them socially with family and friends, introducing beneficial services and broadening horizons. Practically this means buying new equipment such as digital cameras, a wireless printer and web cameras.”


Margaret Slater, Marketing Manager at Congregational Insurance, said: “We are delighted to announce Connect-Silver Surfers as a winner at this year’s awards.  It is a fantastic, innovative project that shows how a community can share skills and knowledge with each other really successfully.

“When we visited the project it was clear how much of a positive impact it was having on the over 50s members in the community and how well it was equipping them with skills that are considered customary in the 21st century.

“Many of the members who visit Connect-Silver Surfers go along to the sessions for the social aspect too. Several members have professed that the project has given them a new lease of life as they have been able to trace old friends, create a family tree and use Google Earth to look at places they once visited, as well as enjoy the company of others.


“We are very pleased to present this award to Connect-Silver Surfers and hope the gift will help support the project to continue with the enthusiastic work currently undertaken.”


The Congregational Federation Community Awards seek to recognise local schemes that make a positive impact in their community. The awards are sponsored by Congregational & General Insurance which has run a community award scheme for the past fourteen years.