Getting connected: Making a difference at the Leep in Lab

With one in five Australians not online the Leep in Lab is showing how a small action can have a big impact when it comes to improving someone’s life by helping them improve their technology and internet skills.

Run twice a week out of Leep’s home office in Penrith the Leep in Lab offers one-on-one support to anyone wanting to improve their basic digital skills and help them build the confidence they need to use technology and the internet in their everyday lives.

The Lab is an entirely volunteer run program, manned by a team of digital mentors. The digital mentors are members from the local community who wanted to be able to make an impact on someone else’s life. Being a mentor doesn’t mean you have to be an IT whiz, the only requirement is that you have an understanding of the basics of using technology and the internet as well as a little patience. As the mentors have found, passing on this knowledge that many of us take for granted can have a big impact on someone else:

“I feel like I’m making a difference by helping people be more confident with their digital skills, they feel more included and are able to do more things that others take for granted.” – Charissa, Digital Mentor

Watch Chris, one of our Digital Mentors, talk about his volunteering experience at the Leep in Lab:

Leep In Lab mentors and learners

The Leep in Lab in action!

One of the most important aspects about the Lab is the way it gives a helping hand to those who need it most, to the people who are most at risk of exclusion and isolation in the community. Of the participants who have been helped by the digital mentors 20% were a person with a disability or were unemployed, 24% were from a culturally or linguistically diverse background and 60% were people over the age of 65. Attending the Lab has not only helped participants be able to use their devices, but helped them feel more included in the wider community and connected with those they care about:

“We started coming [to the Lab] in March after hearing about it in Seniors Week, we were encouraged to come along to Leep. We had devices we didn’t know how to use, I have an iPad and mobile phone, didn’t know how to use them much apart from answer the phone. The mentors have been very helpful. One of the most exciting things for my partner was Joe [a digital mentor] put WhatsApp on his phone, and last week during mentoring with Lisa at the Lab there was a call on WhatsApp from his brother in Turkey! His brother kept putting the phone to his ear and all they could see his hairy ear! Lisa digitally mentored the brother through video call to hold the phone in front! He and his brother were able to reconnect and visually see each other after many years. Still trying to get Whats App on mine but getting there.” – Story from a Leep in Lab participant

Watch Andrew, one of our Digital Mentors, talking about the Leep in Lab and the gift of volunteering:

The Lab isn’t the only place where digital mentoring is improving the lives of people every day. Leep has been working with community organisations around Sydney and beyond to start up their own digital mentoring programs. And now it’s easy for anyone to find digital mentoring and similar services close to them through a map called the Leep in Network.

If you are part of, or know of an organisation, which has the potential to become a digital learning hub like the Leep in Lab, they can apply to join the Leep in Network and receive free advice as well as a toolkit to get started. All you need is a little space, Wi-Fi, a few volunteers and a kettle to make a cuppa and you’re on your way!

Alternatively, if you would like to become a digital mentor, then get in touch with Leep via email or over the phone on 02 4721 1866 and they can link you to digital mentoring services in your area so you can make a difference in your community.