St Monica Trust awards £188,000 to support digital inclusion projects
The St Monica Trust has awarded a total of £188,000 from its Digital Inclusion Fund for projects that will support older people to build digital skills and confidence.
While there have been conversations about the growing digital exclusion of older people in the last decade, this has become more pronounced due to the pandemic.
This world-changing event meant that lots of services went online and have not come back to their traditional format. From booking GP appointments and banking, to TV streaming services and even newspapers, the default of so many is to turn to their phone and computer and not think about those who can’t access either.
Addressing the digital divide
The St Monica Trust wishes to address the unequal access to the digital world, felt particularly acutely by older people, and has launched the Digital Inclusion Fund to tackle these issues.
As the Centre for Ageing Better states:
Although the number of older people who are digitally connected continues to rise, there are still millions of people over the age of 55 who are not online. And while factors such as income and levels of education play a part, age is still the biggest indicator of who’s digitally excluded.
Supporting local organisations
Seven organisations have secured a grant through a competitive bidding process, allowing them to support older people in the community to stay connected. These organisations are:
- BS3 Community Development: Digital support project
- GDA deaf charity: “See you, hear you”
- North Bristol Advice Centre: “Get online outreach”
- North Somerset Training CIC: “Come tech with me”
- St Werburghs Community Association: Digital inclusion project
- Sight Support West of England: Technology support project for older people with sight loss
- Vision North Somerset: 'Click and connect'
Although the aim of each of these projects is to increase older people’s knowledge, confidence and skills in the digital world, all projects also provide opportunities for social interaction – making not only digital connections but face-to-face ones too.
By addressing the digital exclusion faced by so many in our local communities, these projects will enable participants to engage with the many opportunities that being digitally literate provides, as well as navigating day-to-day life.
The fund is also pleased to be supporting three projects that are addressing the additional barriers faced by older people living with deafness or sight-loss.
The move to online communication has disproportionately affected those with deafness and sight loss and these barriers can often seem insurmountable.
These projects will specifically address these barriers and share the many ways that technology can provide solutions to increase independence and connectedness.
Over the last 3 years, we have increasingly heard stories about older people who have been disadvantaged because they weren’t able to access digital services. Whether it be video calls, online banking, or accessing benefits; older people are seeing trusted services being moved online, making them more isolated and less connected to their community. I am proud of our Digital Inclusion fund and pleased that we can support these 7 organisations to work to support those older people with significant barriers to being digitally included.
The Charitable Giving Team works with organisations across Bristol, Bath and North-East Somerset, South Gloucestershire, and North Somerset to improve facilities and opportunities for older people by funding projects within their communities.