- Vodafone Foundation’s Hi Digital project expands to help close the digital divide between generations
- 65% of older people lack basic digital skills
- The partnership will see over 800 Girl Guides trained, with the aim of reaching over 3,000 older people to improve online and digital skills
Vodafone Foundation announces a new partnership with Irish Girl Guides to help close the digital divide between generations. The Irish Girl Guides have become a new charity partner of Vodafone Foundation’s Hi Digital initiative, which brings digital skills, training and support directly to older people across the country. The partnership aims to train over 800 Girl Guides as Digital Champions who will in turn support more than 3,000 older people in Ireland in improving online and digital skills.
Digital exclusion of older generations
65% of older people either lack basic skills or don’t use the internet*. One in four (25%) people aged 60-74 and more than half (56%) of those aged 75 and over do not use the internet. Of those aged between 65-74 who are active online, 43% admit their digital skills are below basic levels, while just 6% say they have “above basic” digital skills.
Closing the digital divide
Girl Guide Units from 25 different locations across the country will participate and commit to training older people in their community in online and digital skills. They will introduce the older people to hidigital.ie – a free online learning platform developed by Vodafone Foundation – to help close the gap when it comes to digital literacy between generations. Everyone involved will earn a certificate and the Girl Guides will also earn a new Hi Digital badge.
The Foundation has provided 100 tablets to the Girl Guides to use in classes across Ireland. Irish Girl Guide units participating in the programme are also planning a series of coffee mornings for older people in their communities to celebrate UN International Day of Older Persons, taking place on 1st October 2023.
Vodafone Foundation’s Hi Digital programme
Vodafone’s Hi Digital programme launched in 2021, and to date has supported over 20,000 older people in improving their digital skills. Irish Girl Guides join Vodafone Foundation’s existing charity partner, Alone, which provides a range of support to older people, including a befriending service and assistive technology.
Hi Digital is a step-by-step course designed for anyone who needs support to improve their digital skills, particularly for those who rarely access the internet. The course is split into short lessons which teach people how to access the internet, use smartphones and stay safe online. The programme aims to create a more connected community, reducing loneliness and isolation among the older population. The initiative is supported by Hi Digital Drop-In Fridays at 21 participating Vodafone Ireland stores, where older people can come in for free, practical support and advice on phones, tablets and devices on Fridays between 10am and 1pm.
Liz Roche, Head of Vodafone Foundation, said “We’re excited to announce our partnership with Irish Girl Guides, who join our existing charity partner, Alone, in bringing digital skills to more people across the country. The partnership is the perfect fit and natural extension of our Hi Digital programme which aims to bridge the digital divide between generations and support older people in becoming digitally independent – giving them the tools to safely explore the online world and stay connected with friends and family.”
Lorraine Mackey McHugh, CEO of Irish Girl Guides, said “Intergenerational work is a central part of the Irish Girl Guides ethos and we are delighted to partner with Vodafone Foundation to share the Hi Digital programme. One of the wonderful things about Hi Digital is that it can happen at the pace that the older person wants to go at. Our girls and volunteer leaders are eager to make that happen and help people in their community.”
To find out more about Hi Digital and Irish Girl Guides, call the Alone helpline on 1800 20 30 30 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Hi Digital, visit https://hidigital.ie/en/.