Saturday, 26 May 2012

Digital inclusion - we all have a role

I started blogging exactly a year ago and my motivation at the time was to get a feel for what it was like to blog because of my job. I suppose it is time to come clean ... I work in what is grandly and sometimes confusingly called "digital inclusion" and for my job this is all about people in later life embracing computer based technology that we all take for granted  [I work for a national organisation called Age UK but this blog is entirely my own views]. There is a worrying statistic that tells us that in the UK there are more than 5 million people over 65 who have never used the internet.
New laptop and printer for my Mum

For people like us writing this and you reading it is inconceivable to think of life now without the internet and all it gives us. Life is swiftly moving to a world that is digital by default. Accessing even the most basic service is likely to be online. We all know that there are enormous cost savings to be made online. Friends to be made and family to keep up with. A world of interesting stories, opportunities to keep your brain awake. You name it and it is there for the taking.

Some people take a lot of convincing and we know what the stated reasons for non take up are but I suspect we will never unearth the real ones that run a little deeper and will never be revealed in surveys. People cannot always be honest with themselves so a survey doesn't stand much chance. Successful projects working on this with older people tend to create low stress, non competitive, sociable environments. People can need to repeat training several times and not feel uncomfortable about it. Some people enjoy being supported by their peers and some work well with young people. Skype is an enormous pull. Touch screen technology has added another dimension to training of course. I wanted a photo so here are some biscuits I made recently for an event - can you guess what they are?
It is what has been termed the "hard to reach" that is the challenge. Isolated people whose only companion is the TV for instance. And here is where you come in ...we have all helped others with computers and mobile phones at some point so we are all experts in our way would you reach out and involve these older people and enhance their lives like it has enhanced yours? And as two thirds of bloggers seem to be from the USA what are the experiences there? I'd love to know.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Cow alert!

I am not one of those people who has fears about spiders, snakes or furry creatures. I love most wildlife. In fact I am thrilled by the merest glance. BUT I am a quivering mess when it comes to a field of innocent cows quietly chewing their way through an English grassy field that happens to be a public right of way. Take my last walk near my home, for instance:
cows on the horizon
Not exactly the stuff of horror stories is it? Grabs partner's arm, holds on tightly..

cows nearer - oh this one is looking at me...

Fast breathing...instructions to stay calm. He's more scared of you than you are of him. They are just curious etc etc [or if he is feeling playful..oh look a killer cow..!]

phew behind the gate...
Made it over the stile..can face them now...heart beat calming. Voice slowing to normal.
At this point the farmer of these cows came over to us and asked what we were doing taking pictures of his cows and entered into a friendly and lively discussion about Bovinophobia and whether it was grounded in any sort of rational reality...and of course it is and it isn't...even farmers have been killed by their own cows but is doesn't happen very often and it helps to be sensible especially when walking your dog - take them off the lead if there are calves. Didn't really make me feel any better.

Then the next footpath had a charming sign. 

skull on footpath sign