The global COVID-19 pandemic has created a very uncertain landscape for millions of British small businesses, which is going to make it very challenging for businesses to survive.
By April 2020, the UK Government's current policy is that all public services will go online for access and be 'digital by default'. Already applications for blue badges, free bus passes, help with council tax and housing and many other services are entirely online. Research by Age UK, Ofcom and the Good Things Foundation has found that older people are disprortionately likely to struggle with this change as many do not own a computer or have internet access and lack digital skills and confidence.
Our project will build the skills and confidence of older people through providing informal learning and support at their own pace so they can independently access online services. We will run a series of weekly 'digital drop-in' groups across Sunderland and the North East to encourage people to get to grips with technology at their own pace. We will encourage people to bring their own devices (e.g. laptops, smart phones) to these for help but we will also provide a number of tablet PCs and a portable wi-fi device so we always have internet access.
For people with mobility issues, we will offer a one-to-one home visit service where people will be offered a bespoke service, usually over about 10 sessions, again at their pace and according to their interests. We will again offer to lend people tablet PCs and a portable wi-fi device if they do not have their own technology.
The aim is to improve the IT skills and confidence of older people so they can do more for themselves, accessing services online.