Digital inclusion grant boost for Barnet older people

Age UK Barnet will support up to 1000 older people and family members with their digital devices thanks to a grant from London Freemasons

An older person and a young person at a laptop
Photo: Age UK Barnet

Nearly a thousand older people and family members around the borough will be getting to grips with their smart phones and laptops – thanks to a £50,000 grant from London Freemasons to Age UK Barnet.

The grant will allow the charity to set up more digital inclusion sessions around the borough, including home-based support sessions for those who are housebound. For older people who struggle to afford Wi-Fi, the grant will provide dongles to get them connected to the internet.

The funding will help support Age UK Barnet’s digital support classes in sheltered housing, libraries and leisure and community centres, with at least half the beneficiaries being over 75 years old.

Friendly trained volunteers show people how to use their devices to stay in touch with friends and family as well as perform everyday tasks like online shopping, booking a GP appointment and paying bills.

There are over 53,000 older people in Barnet, with an expected 66 per cent increase by 2030 of those aged over 85, many of whom who are more likely to be alone and isolated without friends or family close by.

According to a study by Age UK, the national organisation, some 25 per cent of over 65s and over 40 per cent of over 75s are not using their computers to carry out everyday tasks or stay in touch with friends. This is worrying when you consider that more and more services are going online – everything from applying for a Freedom Pass to paying for parking, online shopping or accessing support services. This potentially leaves many older people feeling lonely and isolated and essentially cut off from activities and services that they need.

The new sessions will go a long way to tackle this by connecting people to the online world, making everyday life easier and boosting wellbeing.

The grant from London Freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.

CEO Helen Newman from Age UK Barnet, said: “We’re very grateful to London Freemasons for their generous grant, which will allow us to help well over a thousand older people and their families to access the internet using iPhones, tablets or laptops. These days more and more services are available online and they should be available to everyone, whatever their age.”

Paul King from London Freemasons, said: “I’m really pleased we’ve been able to help Age UK Barnet with this vital project. For many older people the pace of technological change can be bewildering and intimidating, yet there are so many online services and so much entertainment that is available at the press of a button. It’s especially important for those who live alone, allowing them to keep in touch with family and friends. The good news is that it’s never too late to get online.”

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