To address isolation and loneliness in the over fifties a new project run by young people aims to close the digital divide and connect people online.
Students from the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School are spending Summer developing and running an intergenerational mentoring programme to increase digital accessibility and confidence in Glasgow.
DigiGallus Connect is a student led initiative aiming to establish 100 mentee-mentor relationships. It will teach mentees how to send emails, make online video calls, use the internet, and how to ensure sites are secure when buying online.
It will support those already online who want to upskill, and provide those who don’t already have access with internet and a device.
The project will help counter the effects of isolation and loneliness many over the age of 50 experience, which has been exacerbated as a result of Covid-19.
As a result, the student mentors will gain valuable skills in understanding digital inclusion and communicating across generations – a key employability skill.
Isla Melee: Final year studying Spanish and Business and Management. “I hope DigiGallus Connect will demonstrate that by sharing skills and increasing communication we can bridge the gap between generations.”
Professor Kathleen Riach, responsible and sustainable management lead at the Business School has been supporting the students. She said: “The ingenuity, entrepreneurial spirit and social conscience which the students have shown here is phenomenal. Their summer plans have changed with many furloughed from jobs or having their internships and work experience cancelled, and they’ve turned it into a positive learning experience that significantly benefits both them and their local community at the same time. “
Professor Des McNulty, Assistant Vice Principal, Economic Development and Civic Engagement said: “Covid-19 has highlighted lack of access to information via the internet – digital exclusion – as a major source of disadvantage, affecting vulnerable and older people in particular. As part of the University’s commitment to help close the digital divide in the city of Glasgow, the student run Digigallus Connect project will distribute internet-connected devices to elderly residents, with management students providing digital literacy and free technology training to those that most need it – an example of one generation supporting another. “
To fund the project the students need to raise £4,000. The Business School has committed to matching all donations pound for pound to help them reach their target. Donations can be made at https://glasgow.hubbub.net/p/digigallus/.