What began as one victim of multiple strokes plucking up the courage to try a computer course at a UK online centre has become a group of survivors who understand the challenges each face on a daily basis and the group, which provides invaluable support that to its members, is now the winner of the 'Community Impact' prize at the Technology4Good Awards.
The Stroke Survivors Group meet once a week at the Paignton Library in Torbay, Devon. Their main focus is using the courses on UK online centres' Learn website to progress their computer skills at their own pace but it certainly doesn't stop there! With the help of the Stroke Association they've launched their own website and have become trailblazers for stroke victims helping other survivors on the road to recovery.
Project Manager Susan Herlihy says, "Initially a new group member might concentrate on learning how to use a mouse and keyboard, finding equipment to suit their needs. Using technology is the group's common goal, but this very quickly leads to much, much more. They soon find out that technology gives them the opportunity to reach out to others in similar situations, giving them the hope and confidence they need to face the future."
In just three months, the group has grown from Colin, the stroke survivor who first went along the library to use Online basics, to over a dozen members. Colin is now a Digital Champion and earlier this year he won an award from The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education for all his hard work developing the group. He says, "The group has opened up a whole new world and adventure for me, bringing hope and new horizons to all stroke survivors and carers"
There are now plans to make sure that the group can become a sustainable project. With the demand for the support the group provides so high, it's hoped that some of the original members will volunteer to run a second group, showing others how computers and the internet can make a huge difference to the way they live their lives.
For one member, the group has made a huge difference, not only to his skills but also his self esteem. He says "I can't write, I can't read or remember much, I can only talk with a stutter so I can't tell a joke and I feel like a complete fool.
"But coming to these lessons has shown me I have knowledge that I can share, people do care about me and although I still feel like a fool, it's a lot less of a fool!"