A Bangladeshi women's group in Essex has received an introductory training session on how to access and use online services by national older people's charity Independent Age.

The charity held its first Tech Taster Experience day for the Bangladeshi Women’s Association Essex in Colchester. During the four-hour event, 25 over-65s received advice on how to get online and stay connected as well as guidance on how to stay safe online and avoid falling victim to fraud.

Participants were shown how using the internet can make their lives easier and gained tips on how to do many of the things that people take for granted online, such as book grocery delivery slots, access government and council services, and use internet banking. They learned how to connect with others, by making video calls to loved ones and joining local online groups.

Kate Hardy, Caseworker for Independent Age in Essex, said:

“During lockdown, many older people in Essex felt left out of being able to join on-line groups or make the best use of the tech they had available. Given that there was so much increased dependency on online communication and being able to access help and support online, they felt left behind.

“Our work with the Bangladeshi Women’s Association is so important at bridging this digital divide and reconnecting older people with their loved ones and with the community. I am looking forward to taking these Tech Taster sessions to other communities in Essex so we can ensure as many older people as possible have access to online services.”

Salma Ahmed, Project Officer at the Bangladeshi Women’s Association Essex, said:

“The Bangladeshi older women in our group are especially at risk of becoming digitally isolated and many lack the confidence to even try going online. We are grateful for the Independent Age team and volunteers for reaching out to our members and empowering them with the knowledge of how to use tech devices and be safe online.”

The event was run in partnership with Colchester Council’s Digital Access Team and served as a gateway to their eight-week series on digital skills. 

The Tech Tasters are being facilitated by Samsung tablets, donated by Essex County Council, and are loaned out to individuals on a long term basis, with the option of portable Wi-Fi boxes. The Independent Age team aim to distribute tablets in care homes where older people who cannot afford internet access are able to use the communal Wi-Fi and can be supported by staff to make best use of the technology. 

Independent Age’s community services team in Essex is focussed on connecting people aged 65+ with other people with similar interests and experiences, including locally-based friendship volunteers; activities in their own communities and other local services that can be of help.

For more information on the support available and opportunities to volunteer with the team, see Community Services | Independent Age.

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