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Calling Digital Champions - Age Action launches Getting Started Keep In Touch (KIT) to help older people get online during COVID-19

Published 28/04/2020

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Connect, Inform, Support

Age Action launches the Getting Started KIT Programme

Supporting Digital Literacy Skills Amongst Older People

 

(Tuesday 28 April) Getting Started Keep In Touch (KIT), a national learning initiative to help older people improve their digital literacy skills was launched today by Age Action, Ireland’s leading advocacy organisation for older people. The Age Action Getting Started KIT is a series of  NALA approved How To KIT Guides and a video tutorial presented by Mary Kennedy, to help older people to use a smartphone, or other device, to get online so they are more connected, informed and supported particularly those people over the age of 70 that have been asked to stay at home as part of the Covid-19 response measures.

Paddy Connolly, CEO of Age Action said ‘The digital divide is obvious during Covid-19 for all age groups but especially amongst older people because the majority of them are not online. The Age Action Getting Started KIT is designed to support older people to learn, use, and be confident about smartphones, other devices and applications and to help people to become Digital Champions as teachers of digital literacy skills. We know that improving digital literacy skills will help to combat social isolation amongst the older population, enable their participation in the digital economy and support them to access information online.’

 

People over the age of 70 are medically vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic and were asked to practice ‘cocooning’. More people are relying on digital media as a way to keep in touch with family and friends but it is estimated that only 3% of people over the age of 75 have the skills and access to the internet and over half of Irish people aged between 65 and 74 have never used the internet, locking them out of the benefits of being online. For people who are not online, television, radio and newspapers are a vital source of information and entertainment.

 

The Getting Started KIT will feature on Today with Maura and Dáithí on RTÉ One this Tuesday (28/04) at 4:10 when Pat Fitzpatrick will introduce one of Getting Started KIT videos to viewers. On Thursday (30/04) Today with Maura and Dáithí will air another tutorial with Pat Fitzpatrick outlining the campaign initiative. 

 

Mary Kennedy, television broadcaster who is lending her support to the Getting Started KIT by presenting the tutorials said ‘I was delighted to be asked to get involved. This will be a great help for people to keep in touch with family and friends in these difficult times. People will find it very easy to follow.’

 

Acknowledging the support of RTÉ who has come on board to broadcast digital literacy tutorials, Connolly said ‘television is a key source of information and entertainment for older people at this time and we are grateful to RTÉ who will broadcast the tutorials meaning as many older people as possible get a chance to learn. It is through initiatives like this that we see how public service broadcasting adds real value.’

 

The Getting Started KIT will also help people who have digital literacy skills to become Digital Champions as they can use the KIT to tutor someone who needs help.

 

‘We chose to support the development of the Getting Started KIT out of the Community Call Fund because digital skills are absolutely critical now for people to stay connected with their loved ones. We call on people across Ireland to register on ChangeX and get the inspiration and guidance needed to teach older people how to use their devices on a one-to-one basis via phone. This is something anyone with a little bit of time on their hands can do and it will have an impact far beyond this health crisis’ says Niamh McKenna, Head of Impact at ChangeX.

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Call for Voices of Older People to be Heard

Age Action welcomes relaxation of some cocooning measures but criticises lack of consultation with older people.

 

 

(1 May) Age Action called for the Government to consult with older people as it plans for the longer-term impacts of Covid-19. To date, public health and Government advice has treated the over 70 age cohort as one. As a single age cohort people over the age of 70 have been subject to public health measures but not enabled to participate in the decision-making process that would ensure that their lived experience and their self-identified needs informs the outcome.