Something other than your average knitting club

06 December 2022 - Published by Walter Wehus
A project in Arendal unites elderly people over a meal and information, and has led to several new friendships along the way.

“Have you heard about welfare technology before?”

“Yes, it’s frightening.”

Around twenty elderly people are gathered at the Volunteer Central on the first floor of one of the historic buildings in Arendal city centre. They are part of a group that meet every other week as part of the programme Matnyttig fellesskap (Food for Thought).

At the meetings they get served a meal, and there is a session with information that they might find useful. Earlier guests have talked about such things as the plans for the city anniversary next year, and The Norwegian Trekking Association has paid a visit.

Presenting a digital tool

The spotlight today is reserved for Komp, a simple digital tool that makes it easier to stay in touch with family and friends over long distances.

Both Komp and Food for thought started as part of the project From Isolation to Inclusion, a North Sea Region project that works to increase social inclusion and connect neighbourhoods. A PhD student in the project are studying the effects of Komp.


Making new friends

At first the group was a bit shy, but now they are arranging their own outings, says Anne Cantero at Tyholmen Volunteer Central.

“Our goal was to have them make new friends and get on with their adult lives. And we wanted them to be aware of the Volunteer Central and what we can offer, so that they continue to come after the end of Food for thought”, she says.

The group of elderly people was put together by the Volunteer Central specifically for the Food for Thought project. They first met in May, and their last meeting is in December. Afterwards, Cantero and her colleagues will apply for funding to continue the work they have started.

Excited by technology

At the gathering, many of the participants are showing interest in the Komp tool. People with questions raise their hands, and many are interested in learning more.

“I think this sounds great. This must be the first time we have ever been excited by technology”, says one of the particpants.

Anne Marie Myhre has been part of Food for Thought since the start. She says that she appreciates the information about interesting things to be part of, such as computer courses.

“I wanted to be part of this because I was tired of knitting clubs. I wanted to do something that gives me something. And this has been fantastic”, she says.