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Digital Buddies in the Scottish Borders

Posted December 17th 2020 by Christine

Digital Buddies is a project funded by Independent Age to get older people in the Scottish Borders connected digitally to friends, family, groups, their communities & the wider world. We thought other groups may be interested in how this is working, to help you with your plans for older people to become more digitally connected.

The funding has enabled us to so far to provide around 14 people with a Samsung Galaxy tablet and a 24 GB pay as you go data sim card that gives them access to the internet. The data on the sim card can last up to 24 months and can be topped up if needed.

Each person also receives one to one support from a digital buddy as well as from the members of the South East team. Most of the buddies are family members or friends but we have also teamed people up where needed. The buddies have been really valuable as it has allowed us to have a much more individualised approach with each person deciding what and when they want to learn something.  The buddy also gives each person someone to practise with and call on if they are stuck. Without the digital buddies it would have been difficult for us to support people due to the restrictions on meeting people.

At the beginning many of the older people who heard about the project were reluctant to get involved, scared that they wouldn’t manage or remember what to do, but agreed to give it a go.  Just 2 months on they are joining online French classes, attending zoom meetings such as AGM’s & Community Council meetings, video calling friends & family, watching/listening to podcasts, watching Netflix, lots of shopping & much more!!!

Although we knew we had a great project, I don’t think we imagined the impact would be this great so quickly with people telling us:

“I wish I had done this sooner, it has changed my life… I have my independence back”

“It’s been amazing, I haven’t been able to see my grandsons much for the last 9 months, now we video call every week, I just love it”

“I hadn’t been able to go to the community council meetings since lockdown started, it was great to be able to take part again”

“My sister lives in America, with help from my digital buddy we had a video call…. It was the first time I had seen her in 10 years.  I was brilliant and very emotional.”

Not only has Digital Buddies caught the eye of people in the Borders, it has also been mentioned in the Parliament by Christine Grahame MSP.  She invited Christina McKelvie MSP the Minister for Older People to meet with herself & digital buddies in the New Year, which we are very much looking forward to.  We are also thinking of ways we can expand the project not only in the Borders but to other areas of Scotland so watch this space!

 

For more information about Digital Buddies contact Christine@otbds.org

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