These days we rely on our computers, smart phones, tablets and the internet for everything from socialising to shopping. But while many of us have grown up with these developments, not all older people are ‘silver surfers’, with many feeling left behind by the technological tide.
Thankfully help is at hand in the form of Digital Drop Ins, like those run by Age UK Leeds as part of One Digital.
Digital Champions to the rescue
One Digital is a project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund to deliver better digital skills throughout the UK, by providing support to a network of Digital Champions, individuals committed to sharing their knowledge with the less technologically proficient.
Gavin is one such Digital Champion. Every Thursday you'll find him at Arch Café, a friendly eatery serving homemade meals and cakes, located in the Bradbury Centre in the city centre. Here, Gavin leads Digital Drop Ins offering advice, as well as tea, coffee and a WiFi connection.
"Anyone can drop in with any type of device [and] there will people here who can help them with whatever issues they have," explains Gavin.
Why digital inclusion is so important
"It's getting more compulsory nowadays," says Janet, one of the visitors here, of society's reliance on technology. "You're going to be totally cut off if you don't know anything at all about it, aren't you?"
"It's essential," agrees Gavin. "More and more services that people want to access are going online. It's vital that all of us have access to those services, and therefore have the skills that are needed to access those services."
Find out more about how Age UK's digital inclusion programme can provide older people with the digital skills necessary to live more confident, independent lives.
"It gives you a lot more confidence if you use this technology," says Tim, who's brought his smartphone with him today to get some advice on some of its functions. "You see everybody using it and say to yourself, 'Why am I not using it?'"
Setting people on that path is Gavin's favourite part of his role. "When you see someone doing something that you know they couldn't do only the week before without your help, then that's the reward.
Words of encouragement
"I would definitely recommend it," says Janet. "You can take it at your own pace. We all struggle, so [you shouldn't] be frightened of coming."
Tim agrees. "You feel more at ease here. They make you feel welcome. You're here and they look after you."