Making new digital friends
Ofcom are hoping to set up a ‘Digital Friends’ scheme whereby company volunteers will work with older people to help them develop their skills using communications technology such as mobile phones and the internet. This will help to promote digital inclusion among older people who can easily become socially isolated and excluded.
This initiative is building upon the success of an event held by Ofcom in December 2012, where older residents from the Bankside area were invited to Ofcom for an interactive ‘Keeping in Touch’ technology communications event.
Why did Ofcom decide to hold an event for older people?
Under the Communications Act 2003, Ofcom has a duty to look at the needs of older and disabled people. Ofcom is also committed to supporting the local community as part of its Corporate Responsibility portfolio. These two areas were brought together and older people from the local community were invited to the session at their offices in Riverside House. The company asked Better Bankside for help linking up with older residents and were put in touch with two local charities working with older people: Blackfriars Settlement and Hopton’s Almshouses.
What was covered at the event?
The aims of the session were to explain Ofcom's role as the communications regulator, to outline the rights of citizens and consumers and to offer hands-on demonstrations of communications technology. The Chair of the Ofcom’s Communications Consumer Panel (CCP) and the Advisory Committee on Older and Disabled People (ACOD) led the session.
Before the event, Ofcom worked closely with Blackfriars Settlement, who explained that promoting digital inclusion was a priority for them in their work with older people. Ofcom also spoke to residents at Hopton’s Alms Houses who were concerned about standards within broadcasting and what their rights were as consumers. The company used this input to design an event that was interesting, relevant and of benefit to the older people that attended.
The Chair opened the session by explaining the CCP's and ACOD’s roles in making sure that the needs of older citizens and consumers are heard and acted upon. A representative from the Consumer Group led a session on the rights of older stakeholders and the services that they are entitled to within the communications market. This was followed by a lively Q&A session and lunch.
After lunch, Ofcom volunteers ran a hands-on communication technology demonstration session that included basic internet training and mobile phone support. Audio description services and the very latest in 3D TV technology were also demonstrated.
The event was well received by all those that attended:
“A very big thank you for inviting residents of Hopton Gardens to your very informative seminar yesterday, the feedback has been great, 100% positive”