Drop-in sessions in Kirkby Malzeard to help residents use online services and connect with family and friends
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The “Coffee, Click and Connect” sessions take place every Tuesday between 10am and 12pm at The Mechanics Institute in Kirkby Malzeard.
The service, led by Nidd Plus, was first announced earlier this year to assist those with basic online knowledge.
The sessions have provided residents with the essential skills needed to navigate online systems such as the NHS, and gain confidence using new devices.
Joanne Hayes, digital champion coordinator, said: “We run a digital champion service to help people who struggle to make the most of online services and often feel overwhelmed.
“As a result it can cause people to give up or feel isolated.
“We also have them in Dacre, Darley and Pateley Bridge but we don’t think people are aware we are here in the Kirkby Malzeard area.
“During Covid many people were left behind and haven’t been able to find access services.
“We loan out devices and teach the skills that they need to video call relatives and friends, online shopping, help them with hobbies, join groups or book tickets.”
During Covid many services were forced online including NHS prescriptions, which made life difficult for the elderly who had little or no experience navigating an online system.
With many families taking on second or third jobs to meet rising costs, the extra pressure can cause unnecessary stress.
Mrs Hayes said: “Surgeries now direct people to use online apps which many still don’t have.
“Covid boosters are coming out again and some people still need to know how to access them.
“People can gain more independence as we have the time to show them the process, so they can do it themselves.
“Often families will do it for them, but they still rely on them, which can add pressure and make the elderly feel like a burden on their loved ones.”
Despite being in a largely post-Covid era, many businesses and organisations have remained online, leaving a greater expectation to have competent online skills.
Mrs Hayes said: “You don’t have to come with anything specific.
“It’s a good place to make friends and grow your social circle.
“It’s getting over that fear that they aren’t stupid questions.”
Mrs Hayes added: “It can be stressful for older people who haven’t grown up with technology and today everything is involved with it in some shape or form.
“Having a method to remember all those passwords can be daunting.”
People who are not familiar with online services can struggle to feel secure using card technology and become vulnerable to high risk transactions or fraudsters.
Mrs Hayes said: “Particularly with the older generation, anything to do with their cards, they don’t have that understanding of how safe they are.
“The demand to use technology is far greater now, as it's cheaper and more efficient for companies
“It can be hard for them to get their head around it all.
“We talk about how to keep them safe and use online security, which gives them the independence they deserve.”