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Age Connects Neath Port Talbot supports Digital Inclusion Charter

‘Age Connects Neath Port Talbot’ signed up for the Digital Inclusion Charter because it supports the six principles of the Charter and was keen to be involved, and work in partnership with other organisations, to promote its services and benefit its employees, volunteers, clients and the wider community.

One way it actively promotes digital inclusion is with its ‘Go for I.T.’ project. The ‘Go for I.T.’ project was set up to provide digital inclusion activities for people aged 50+ living in rural areas of Neath Port Talbot, as, through discussions with clients in outreach sessions, it was found that many of them would like to be able to access the digital world.

The project has an important role to play to make sure older people are not left behind in the digital age. It ensures they are able to obtain the full benefits of being online; from accessing public services, shopping or switching fuel tariffs, to keeping in touch with family via video chat. The ‘Go for I.T.’ teaching sessions enable older people to make full use of Information and Communications Technologies to enhance their lives, thus reducing loneliness and isolation. The sessions are held in existing outreach groups with a qualified tutor, who has vast experience of working in community settings with older adults.

From initial consultations with the individual groups, a structured programme has been devised, as well as offering a drop in surgery for those with specific interests or needs.

For example, in one area the ‘Go for I.T.’ module has run alongside a health and wellbeing module. Each digital session was tailored to the activity that was planned for the health and wellbeing session, from stress tests, to researching homeopathy, to accessing ‘my health online’ to book appointments and ordering prescriptions.

Social media is another big topic of interest for Age Connects Neath Port Talbot’s groups. They want to use it to reminisce and look at old photographs of their local area. Cwmgwrach does not have a Facebook page yet, so with support the clients will be setting one up shortly and providing photos and information to populate it. This will give them ownership of the page and will provide greater learning opportunities such as scanning and uploading photos and writing posts.

Group members have provided positive feedback about the sessions so far, including:

“The class is very good for the elderly because we can ask questions. It is very convenient and is company for me” – Charles

“The class suits me in its present format -semi structured and we can divert to individual problems. Drop in style suits most people.” – David

Through partnership links with Melincryddan Community Conference (MCC) and previous work with Digital Communities Wales, the organisation has been able to access the Digital Champions Training for two members of staff and three volunteers.

This is what Michelle Jones, one the Information and Advice Volunteers had to say about the course:-

“I found the Digital Inclusion course gave me the confidence and skills I needed to be able to support our clients to get online at our outreach I.T. classes. I now know how to help our clients overcome the barriers they have stopping them from getting online.

I found the exercise on creating safe passwords extremely helpful as this is one of the reasons many of our clients do not want to go online, they are worried about sharing personal details. I now know how to create a safe password.

Delyth, the course tutor was very approachable and her delivery put me at ease. I am confident to go online in the office for my clients to complete a range of statutory forms.

I will be keeping up my digital learning over the next year using the S.M.A.R.T. method to keep learning, enabling me to help our clients.

Part of the coursework on presentation skills will also benefit me as I am expected to do this this year as part of my university degree course.”

Throughout the organisation they embed digital inclusion; from using a database to access client details, book appointments or share calendars, to using it for statutory services such as blue badge applications, online benefits forms and appeals. Staff also use Google Maps to research locations of new venues and Tripadvisor to research local information when going out on trips; from local attractions to the best cafes and shops to visit.

At present Age Connects Neath Port Talbot has recruited four volunteers to help with Go for I.T. and is working to recruit more throughout the project.

Go for I.T. Development Officer, Joanne Baitup, has joined “Get Neath Port Talbot Online” and attends regular meetings with other organisations to share ideas on best practice. The organisation also works in partnership with MCC, Communities First and the local libraries.