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Collaborating with older people to embrace digital and overcome loneliness

Credit aging better
photo credit Aging Better

The pandemic exposed that many older people were at risk of being left behind, due to the fact they lacked digital connectivity. The Body Mind Spirit Partnership, led by Thrive Together Birmingham moved their activities with older people to doorsteps or online. This meant they could remain connected with older people at a difficult time.

What was soon evident was older people, not connected to digital, were at risk of isolation more than ever before. In reflecting on the situation, we embarked on a journey with older people who wanted to become digital during this time and to share their story as to what it was like. We also wanted to capture what it was like for Community Development Practitioners, who were alongside older people, as they helped them become digital during national and local lock-downs.

Our project was funded by Ageing Better Innovation Fund, which has helped us in our understanding, as to what it means for older people to become digital, whilst continuing the conversation about how we address digital poverty. We learnt that just providing a devise was not enough and having access to data was essential, especially for those who are struggling to make ends meet.

Overcoming the fear of breaking the internet, as well as learning a new language in symbols were also highlighted as part of the project. For professionals having patience was an essential attribute to help people, it enabled confidence to have a go, as well as overcoming any digital anxiety. These two perspectives are captured in a short film, telling the story of what it is like to become digital, which will be available to view across our social media from July 2022.