In a year where face-to-face contact has been extremely limited, it has never been more important to be digitally connected. The Covid-19 pandemic has really highlighted the issue that older people who are not confident in using technology, have become increasingly more isolated. Many of us take for granted having the opportunity to video call our friends and family, but for those who are unable to, it has made life so much harder.
This is why Ageless Thanet has launched a new scheme called Digital Buddies; pairing those wishing to learn how to use technology with willing volunteers who can talk them through how to use it over the phone.
Valerie is one person who has benefitted from getting online during lockdown. She said:
“I have now been able to set up and create a meeting on Zoom. It was so nice to see my brother in New Zealand and communicate face to face albeit virtually for the first time in so long. With the world currently going through the Covid-19 pandemic, it just makes it that extra bit special that I can see he is ok and doing well. My niece who lives in North Yorkshire also managed to join the same call, it was just amazing and I was thrilled to see them, something I could not imagine ever being able to achieve.”
Aside from staying connected with friends and family, there is a huge range of other opportunities that become available once you become more confident with technology. From finding crochet/knitting patterns, gardening tips, researching your family tree, shopping, to even finding out what ships are out at sea; whatever your hobby or interest there will be a way that technology can add to your enjoyment.
The prospect of learning new technology can be very daunting, with many people fearing that they will appear stupid, or make loads of mistakes. Valerie gave the following advice to people thinking about asking for support to get online:
“The first step you take is the hardest. If you can motivate yourself to take that first step and say to yourself, I want to go and do this, you will be supported. For me I needed to ask loads of questions, even if some sounded repetitive so that I could understand how to do things. I do not understand modern tech speech and thankfully I had Will who was able to simplify these terms and make it better to understand and put up with all my questions. I can guarantee you that you will benefit from these sessions providing you put your time and mind to it they are very understanding and accommodating to your needs.”
So, if you’re over the age of 50 and would like some support to learn how to use a smart phone, tablet, or laptop, get in touch with Ageless Thanet. Please call 01843 210005 and Ageless Thanet will be more than happy to pair you with one of their friendly Digital Buddies. Likewise if you have some free time and would like to support someone to get online, please call the number above, or email email@example.com.
Ageless Thanet, led by Social Enterprise Kent, is part of Ageing Better, a programme set up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Ageing Better aims to develop creative ways for people aged over 50 to be actively involved in their local communities, helping to combat social isolation and loneliness. It is one of five major programmes set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.