digital tech too daunting? Help is at hand

Older people can get help to develop the skills and confidence they need to make the most of the digital world. 

People who do not use the internet risk losing access to key services such as banking, shopping and health services, as well as communications platforms that keep people connected. 

So, Age UK County Durham has launched a digital inclusion project for people aged 50 and over in Crook, Willington and surrounding areas. 

Staff and volunteer ‘Digital Champions’ will offer informal group and one-to-one activities designed to make the digital world more accessible for older people with little or no experience, including those who have never considered making use of technology before. 

Some participants could go on to receive focused support, to learn skills that meet their specific needs such as using a mobile phone for text messaging and managing prescriptions. 

Joanne Norman, a Community Investment Coordinator at believe housing, said: “A lack of skills, mistrust in the internet, and a lack of access to good enough equipment or broadband can all lead to digital exclusion. 

“By supporting this project, we want to help break down some of those barriers so more older people can use digital technology and the internet. 

“This can open up opportunities and make life a little easier, from paying bills securely to staying in touch with friends and family.” 

Sessions will also cover device basics, internet safety advice, and help to identify and prevent potential online scams to help people feel more comfortable with the technology.  

And those who do not have access to a device will have the opportunity to loan a tablet and data.  

The 12-month project is being funded with a £15,000 grant from the North East housing association believe housing.  

A previous Digital Champions project delivered countywide by Age UK County Durham was very successful and helped hundreds of people to make use of digital technology.  

The charity will also be able to signpost participants to their other support services such as information and advice, mental health and wellbeing service and social opportunities in the community. 

Hilary Jamieson, Programme Manager at Age UK County Durham, said: “In this rapidly changing landscape Age UK County Durham strives to ensure that older people are not excluded from services which enable them to live and age well.  

“In partnering with believe housing we will extend our reach across local communities to offer free support to adults aged 50-years plus to access digital technology and online services safely and at a pace to meet their needs.” 

For details of how to take part, for yourself or an older person you know, contact Age UK County Durham by calling 0191 386 3856 or emailing