Help is always at hand

Teaching at SeniorNet is a win-win for this Nelson-based retired IT expert.

For Peter Grant Thompson, exercise is an important part of retirement – but it's not just about moving his body. Peter knows the importance of keeping the brain active and continuing to learn new things as he is a tutor for SeniorNet, a non-profit organisation. SeniorNet helps people over 50 get to grips with modern technology such as smartphones and computers and all the things you can do with them.

Based in Nelson, Peter, a retired teacher of digital technology, has been a tutor with SeniorNet for almost four years and finds the work very rewarding. "It's my hobby as well," explains Peter. "I wanted to help people and liked what I saw when I went to a SeniorNet open day back in 2018. It's great to problem solve for people - we're a small enough group that if someone comes with a particular need we can usually help – and of course there's the social side."

One of more than 50 across the country, the Nelson branch of SeniorNet opened in the 1990s and has about 350 members mostly aged 60 and above. They run regular in-person help sessions where members can bring phones or laptops to get help with specific problems. There are also special-interest sessions and a "club day" which is open to the public and features an expert technology speaker who might cover topics such as telehealth, phone plans or applying for insurance online.

"The membership was closer to 500 when I started," says Peter. "But we are an ageing organisation and the way we are utilised is changing because nowadays people have a lot of exposure to technology through work or through family members, whereas some of our older members retired without ever coming into contact with computers or smartphones."

AMI is proud to have partnered with SeniorNet, to support older New Zealanders to build confidence to do more online, including managing their insurance*. The help that SeniorNet offers varies – many members are seeking relatively basic information, such as learning how to send and receive texts, open emails and use video calling. For those who want to learn more, there are interest groups, including one Peter runs on Android technology. He says the organisation has a lot to offer and is playing an important role in the community, so he sits on the committee and manages the mail-out of the member newsletter.

Cycling is an integral part of Peter's lifestyle, so he cycles the 10km from his home to the group each week. His pleasure rides can reach up to 60km and he has panniers on his bike for grocery shopping. "It's my main mode of transport," he says. "It's just another way that Peter shows the importance of keeping active in both body and mind during retirement".

* AMI will pay the 12-month SeniorNet membership fee for any AMI customer over the age of 50 that joins before September 2022. Simply mention you are an AMI customer at your local SeniorNet Learning Centre and AMI will take care of the rest.