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Local IT guy launches pay-what-you-can service to help the elderly stay connected
Grant Webb wants to make it easier for people to connect during lockdown
Virtually anyone with an older relative knows how hard it can be to have that birthday Skype call with granny, or help mum set up her email account over the phone. For a lot of us, it’s something that tests our patience. Fortunately, Grant Webb, an IT guy from Fish Hook, has patience for days.
Grant has launched a small computer service called Grant Assists. He helps people, particularly the elderly, get comfortable with being online and connect with their families.
NO PROBLEM IS TOO SMALL
It's the little things like attaching a picture to an email that some people really battle with. “If they knew how to do it," Grant explains, "they'd use it so much more, and they would be able to send their grandkids that picture of the tree they planted last year.”
His Facebook page offers help with all manner of small IT questions, like “how to open this file, how to send a picture, how to do Skype, what is this Twitter thing, Walls, Pages, Likes and Shares…”
Grant knows that many people, especially those who are older, are afraid or embarrassed to ask for help over these little things. Grant wanted to create a safe, calm space for people to ask anything IT-related, no matter how silly or small the question seems.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Grant has an IT background, and he’s always been that person people call for help. Grant has been helping his elderly mother, who lives in Swellendam, with everything from her printer and scanner to online banking and payments. He knew others were struggling in the same way, and had no help. And during a time of nationwide lockdown, loneliness is a real problem, especially for those who are older.
CURBING LOCKDOWN LONELINESS
It was this sense of loneliness and isolation that spurred Grant into action. Interacting on a video call can be as simple as clicking a link. “But for them”, Grant says, “it's not that simple. And once it becomes that simple, they talk to a lot more people. They’re interacting more, they're joining in groups".
Grant has become friends with many of the people he's helped, too. In fact, sometimes his calls evolve into conversations. “Yesterday, I was speaking to somebody in Greece,” he says, helping with very simple software issues. “But it took us three hours to do, because we were talking about everything else but the problem they had.”
Grant found it ludicrous that call-out fees for something as simple as connecting your printer properly could cost you R400-R500. "It really isn't such a big job,” he says.
"Hell, I don't make much money out of it at all, but it's not my main motivation for it," Grant explains. “I don’t have to drive anywhere. It doesn't cost me anything and it’s really about helping the people. It’s the people, the interaction, the joy I get, the virtual hugs.”
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