Mustard Seed, at Glen Forrest Uniting Church, is a program offering computer classes for people in the local community. A reference to the Biblical mustard seed, the program is all about big things growing from the small. Five sessions are run each week during school terms helping people learn more about tablets – such as iPads – iMac, Windows, printing and scanning as well as assisting with any questions or troubleshooting people might be experiencing with their computers.
Running since 2001, Brian Hassell, coordinator of Mustard Seed, said that they are one of the most well-equipped computer learning centres in the region. Operating out of the back room at Glen Forrest Uniting Church, they have 22 computers available for use, including laptops and desktops as well as a digital projector, tablet computers, scanners, still and movie cameras, an audio recorder and a CD/DVD copier.
The building is also equipped with wireless internet for people who bring their own devices. Each session costs $3 a person and the program has been fortunate enough to receive grants from the Uniting Church in WA and the Mundaring Shire. It has been an extremely popular program, mostly with retirees in the area, attracting over 90 enrolments each year and a waiting list of people trying to get into the classes.
Brian said that the program offers more than computer knowledge. “It’s not just a computer learning centre, but a lot of people come for the social side of it as well,” he said. “There’s a lot of fellowship, they’re a very friendly group.”
As the world progresses faster and faster, many people can feel left behind if they don’t know how to use some of the new technologies. Brian said that a lot of older people want to become better at using computers so they can stay in touch with their families, especially while travelling.
“If older folk don’t have computer knowledge then they’re really on the outer,” Brian said. “Everyone just assumes that people have the internet and computers at home. A lot of older folk get left behind. All of a sudden they find themselves in a technological age and if they don’t know anything about it they’re isolated.
“Glen Forrest Uniting Church is really about outreach and being a support to the community. And Mustard Seed is one of those things.”