Vodafone Foundation & Irish Girl Guides Team Up to Teach Digital Skills to Older People

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The Vodafone Foundation recently announced an exciting partnership with Irish Girl Guides to help bridge the generational digital divide. The Irish Girl Guides have joined the Vodafone Foundation’s Hi Digital initiative, which provides digital skills, training, and support to older people nationwide. The collaboration aims to train over 800 Girl Guides as Digital Champions, assisting over 3,000 older adults with their abilities.

These digital champions will introduce older people to hidigital.ie, a free online learning platform developed by the Vodafone Foundation. Everyone associated with this initiative will receive a certificate, and the Girl Guides will earn a new Hi Digital badge. The course is divided into short sessions that educate people on how to access the Internet and smartphones to stay safe online. This programme aims to build a more connected community, minimising loneliness and isolation among older people.

The Foundation has provided 100 tablets to the Girl Guides to use in classes across Ireland. The Irish Girl Guide units participating in the programme are also planning a series of coffee mornings for older people in their communities to celebrate the UN International Day of Older Persons on 1 October 2023.

Vodafone’s Hi Digital programme launched in 2021 and has assisted over 20,000 older people to improve their digital skills. Irish Girl Guides join Vodafone Foundation’s existing charity partner, Alone, which offers various services to older people, including companionship and assistive technology. Hi Digital is a step-by-step designed for anyone needing support to improve their digital skills, particularly those who rarely access the Internet.

Speaking about the development, 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 nationwide. 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.

According to research by the charity Age Action, almost two-thirds (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.

Lorraine Mackey McHugh, CEO of Irish Girl Guides, added:

Intergenerational work is a central part of the 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 the older person wants. Our girls and volunteer leaders are eager to make that happen and help people in their community.

The Irish Girl Guides (IGG) is a youth-driven, dynamic organisation offering a varied and exciting programme for girls and young women aged 5-30 and opportunities for women of all ages. The platform strongly emphasises the outdoors, environment, community responsibility and global sisterhood. IGG actively promotes diversity and inclusion and welcomes girls and young women from all walks of life. Its members learn new skills, develop self-confidence, develop teamwork and leadership skills, experience new activities, and build lifelong friendships.

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