Helping to bridge gap

Pictures Martin Bostock'15 year old Lydia Lake with Miriam Plackstone at Burlington House Sheltered Housing Association, Poulton. Lydia has won an award for her volunteering efforts.
Pictures Martin Bostock'15 year old Lydia Lake with Miriam Plackstone at Burlington House Sheltered Housing Association, Poulton. Lydia has won an award for her volunteering efforts.
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LYDIA Lake isn’t your average 15-year-old.

Once a week, every week, the Hodgson Academy pupil devotes an afternoon to volunteering to help older people learn computer skills.

And the Cleveleys schoolgirl has now won an award for giving up her time and for her hard work and kindness.

Lydia was named BT Internet Ranger of the Year, and was presented with £200 worth of IT vouchers and an iPad.

The annual award scheme recognises the UK’s most dedicated young internet teachers, who are helping to bridge the gap between generations in their local communities.

Lydia has been volunteering at Burlington House sheltered housing accommodation, on Queensway, in Poulton, once a week since she was 12.

From getting to grips with the basics of computers, to setting up email accounts and learning to use online bingo and crossword websites, the residents – aged 65 to 98 – have all found Lydia has made a positive impact on their lives.

Lydia, who got involved after her information and technology teachers suggested the scheme, said: “I enjoy volunteering as it’s something different and it’s nice to have something like this to get involved with.

“It’s nice to be involved in socialising with people from a different generation, who I might not get to interact with normally in the community.

“As well as me being to help them, I’ve learned a lot from it too.

“Some of the residents have only just started using computers, so I teach then how to use them, but with others it’s internet skills, emails, pictures – all sorts of different things.

“I feel more young people should volunteer, it’s really worthwhile, I enjoy it.

“I was really surprised when I found out I had won the award, but I hope it raises the profile of volunteering in different situations.

“We can all learn from each other. And apparently, I make a mean cup of tea!”

Peter Connor, from BT, said: “The internet provides a gateway to so many positive things and it is fantastic to see the commitment shown by the young generation like Lydia in helping people get online.”

Burlington residents Norma Rudge, 80 and Miriam Plackstone, 90, say they love their computer sessions with Lydia.

She helps Miriam email her daughter and has helped Norma with general internet skills.

Norma said: “She is a lovely girl and the session have really helped us learn a lot.

“There’s a social aspect too – getting to talk to the young people, we don’t just talk about computers, it’s nice to have that interaction between the generations.

“She is a breath of fresh air.”