Age UK will recruit at least 20 “Digital Champions” who will support and guide 2,000 older people to use communication tools like email, Skype and FaceTime, which younger people take for granted.
The Digital Champions project is aimed at helping these older people to access online information on everything from benefits to bus timetables. With many services becoming digital by default, older people who are not online face more hurdles in their daily lives to access both private and public sector services. There will also be an emphasis on online safety and protection from viruses and fraud.
The project is supporting older people across Leicestershire and Rutland, with a focus on people in rural areas. It aims to combat loneliness and isolation by helping these budding “silver surfers” to keep in touch with family and friends online.
Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland’s Digital Champions will be holding up to four sessions a week across Leicestershire and Rutland. They will be for around 15 people each and be held in community settings such as libraries, village halls and residential homes, whilst there will also be one-to one sessions available.
Tony Donovan, Executive Director at Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland, said: ‘We are very grateful to Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for their generous grant which will improve the quality of life for thousands of older people.
‘More than four million older people nationally have never used the internet and we need to help them to benefit from all the advantages of a digital world that most of us take for granted.’
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, said: ‘We are very pleased to be able to support Age UK’s Digital Champions.
‘As well as fighting loneliness and depression, getting older people online has great practical benefits. A household without internet access is on average £650 a year worse off.”