Charity Launches Technology Cafes For Over 55s With Access Foundation Grant
According to a survey by Age UK, three out of five older adults who do not use the internet cite a lack of digital skills, confidence and fear of being scammed as reasons why.
To combat these drawbacks, Home Instead Charities has launched 10 technology cafes across the UK aimed at supporting senior residents to navigate the digital world over a cuppa, while also helping to increase their independence and put an end to the loneliness that can be caused by feeling disconnected.
The first Tech Talk and Companionship Cafes launched in February thanks to a £43,750 grant from The Access Foundation, which is also committed to bridging the digital divide and ensuring the online world is an inclusive space for all.
There are now 10 cafes, including in Doncaster, East Sussex, Hertfordshire and Dudley, with three more due to open in Chester, The Wirral and Stockport by the start of 2024.
The sessions, which are attended by 100 people fortnightly, are open to anyone over the age of 55. Those who attend can either be completely new to technology with little to no digital skills or equipment, or already be tech-savvy and need some extra help with online shopping, internet banking or sending messages and photos to loved ones.
The Access Foundation was launched by leading software provider, The Access Group, in 2021 to support organisations that tackle the digital divide through facilities and education after the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted how many people were being excluded from the digital world without access to the internet or devices at home.
Piers McLeish, co-founder of the Foundation, said: “It’s wonderful to see the impact our grants are having. The technology cafes are a vital service to our older citizens. They are the exact reason why this foundation was set up - to help the most vulnerable in our communities with their tech and to ensure no one is left behind.
“We want people of every age, ability and background to feel confident using technology, to stay connected to their friends and families online, and enhance their daily lives.”
Home Instead reported that it had received positive feedback from users since the launch of the cafes. All those who attended said they had enjoyed the sessions and that becoming more tech-savvy would enable them to become more independent.
Of those surveyed, 80 per cent said their digital skills had increased since attending the tech cafes and 90 per cent said they had better access to technology than before.
Penny Hamer, executive director at Home Instead Charities, said: “Some of our participants are living with dementia, so simple activities such as online quizzes or puzzles provide a soft introduction to technology and also help to stimulate cognition which can slow the onset of dementia.
“At the other end of the spectrum, our cafes also cater to those with a small grasp of tech and just help them enhance their everyday tasks with it. We are grateful to The Access Foundation for helping us to be able to bridge that technology divide so many people feel stops them from living in our increasingly digital age.
“The funding has already made a huge difference in setting up these cafes and we are confident their success will grow, allowing us to reach and expand the project far and wide.”