The digital age


Age UK Redbridge, Barking and Havering has launched a new Digital Champion Programme to help older people get online and learn how to use digital devices. Project coordinator Vivienne Greengrass reports

Given digital exclusion increases with age, there are important questions about how any increased reliance on technology in our society has affected the older population. The ongoing restrictions and fears around social interaction for older people have led to concerns about loneliness and isolation, particularly for those who do not use or find it difficult to use digital technology to keep in contact.

Being digitally included can help older people carry out the activities that matter most to them. It can help them stay connected with family and friends, find activities and support, access essential services, and remain socially connected. Vital services such as banking, shopping and health services have become increasingly ‘digital first’ since the COVID-19 pandemic. But there are more than three million people aged 65 and over in the UK who do not use the internet, meaning there is a huge risk of older people being left behind.

Digital inclusion is about making sure that people have the capability to use the internet to do things that benefit them day-to-day. It is defined in terms of digital skills, digital connectivity and digital accessibility. This programme will provide digital training sessions to help those older people who want to learn how to get online, to build their essential digital skills and confidence to live a more included and independent life.

The sessions will be delivered by volunteer Digital Champions. The programme has three core activities.

These activities and events are designed to support older people to understand the benefits that digital technology can bring. To inform them how digital technology could benefit them personally, the ways in which it could make day-to-day life easier and more enjoyable and inspire participation in the digital skills support sessions.

Digital skills support
To assist older people in developing their digital skills and confidence. Support can be staff- or volunteer-led, delivered in a one-to-one or group setting, offered remotely (telephone or video call), in the client’s home or in a suitable venue. Each older person is likely to require between five and 10 sessions.

Tablet loan scheme
The tablet loan scheme will be offered to those older people most at risk of digital exclusion, to ensure they can access technology and connectivity on a loan basis to ‘give it a go’ and support their skills development in the short term. 

If you would like to take part in the programme or volunteer as a Digital Champion, do get in touch.

To find out more information or to volunteer, call 07946 032 332 or email vivienne.greengrass@ageukrbh.org.uk