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Students launch new technology help service in Lancaster

John Freeman
Christmas time has been and gone for another year and sitting in its box is a new phone, camera or even laptop, given by well meaning relatives.

Little do they know you can’t even find the power button!

It's hardly a surprise, especially as technology advances at such a pace that it seems to take over every aspect of daily life. While technology can seem to be daunting to those unfamiliar with it, for some it is a practical and enjoyable resource. The benefits of technology can be many; aiding communication, saving time and providing entertainment. But where do you start?

This is where ITea comes in.

Two students from Lancaster University have set up a new, free, drop-in service being provided twice a week. At this session you can learn about technology whilst enjoying a cup of tea or coffee. The idea is to be approachable and patient so that it seems less intimidating.

"ITea aims to provide friendly advice about technology, from using the Internet to learning how to text on a mobile," explains Elena Bennett, the Coordinator of Lancaster ITea. "We don’t claim to be experts and we certainly can’t fix things, but I think the knowledge that we have about everyday technology can be used to improve others quality of life.

"We can help with shopping online, internet banking, cameras, mobiles, webcams, social networking, emails, online dating and many other forms of everyday IT."

ITea was initially run as a week by Age UK but it was recognised that this is something that the community in Lancaster could benefit from all year round, and the service has been extended so it is available for anyone who feels that it might be of use to them.

"Even if you just want to have a chat about how technology affects your life or any concerns you might have then you can come along," says Elena. "You might even make some new like-minded friends!"

The volunteers have technology available that you can use to familiarise yourself with whatever it is you are interested in learning more about. It is however recommended that if possible you bring along the technology that you want to use, for example your camera, so the advice can be more specific and the session be more useful. You can come back as many times as you like until you feel confident with what you have learnt.

• ITea drop-ins will take place in Room B17 at Lancaster University Library (there are signs directing people from the bus station) and run during the university term on Mondays and Fridays from 2pm until 4.00pm (which this term ends 1st April 2011). The service is being supported by LUSU Involve, who can be contacted on 01524 592828 if you have any queries or want more information about ITea.