By Lucy Gollogly
Following the closure of the Workers’ Educational Association Northern Ireland earlier this year, a new partnership is allowing the Digital Age project to continue supporting older people to learn digital skills and improve their lives.
The project, which works with older people living in sheltered housing, is funded under our Connecting Older People programme. The new partnership is led by Linking Generations Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK wide Beth Johnson Foundation. It also includes Ignite IT, Zenith IT Solutions, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education and the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations. Linking Generations Northern Ireland also works in partnership with GO ON NI.
Linking Generations Northern Ireland will now use a £246,422 grant over two years to support older people to use technology to stay in touch with loved ones and access information and services. The older people are also learning how technology can help reduce social isolation and promote a better quality of life. The project is working in sheltered housing schemes across Northern Ireland.
Ignite IT is delivering the free 10 week IT courses for older people as well as intergenerational projects that are linking the residents up with young people from schools and youth clubs.
One older woman who is involved in the project said: “I have learned how to listen and talk to young people. Being in the company of a new generation is fun and it has really helped me learn IT skills.”
Vicki Titterington, Linking Generations Northern Ireland manager, said: “Linking Generations Northern Ireland is delighted and very excited to be the new lead partner in the Big Lottery Fund supported Digital Age project, which will run for two years until November 2016.
“It brings together a range of partners each with a specific remit and skills to deliver a Northern Ireland wide digital inclusion programme for older people in sheltered accommodation. Through empowering older people with the skills and knowledge to get online, we can offer them access to a world of social connections and services. The opportunity for older people to work with younger people promotes community connections and helps form meaningful relationships between different generations and also age specific organisations.
“An intergenerational approach like this has a much bigger impact on the people involved, supporting them to feel both digitally and socially included.”
Any sheltered housing scheme with reliable broadband / wifi and with a minimum of eight older residents who are interested in taking part can contact Lynne Bennett on firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.