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BT: Tackling loneliness through tech and digital skills

Lockdown has been a challenge for most of us. But for older people at risk of isolation and loneliness, it has presented even greater challenges.

Tech has been a great enabler during the past three months. Keeping us connected with family and friends, helping us to shop online and to stay entertained. Yet, we know that some older people do not have the skills that they need to use technology to make the most of life at this difficult time.

Man using tech

Gaining digital skills

Our BT Skills for Tomorrow research suggests that this is resulting in many older people (70+) suffering from a difficult combination of both physical and digital isolation during lockdown. A poll of 1,000 people who have a close relative over 70, found that half believe their relative is reluctant to try and learn new skills when it comes to technology.

It also showed a number of different barriers to learning. A quarter said their loved ones believe the internet is unsafe. 29 per cent say that their relatives haven’t got anyone to teach them. Nearly four in ten said family members are open to improving their digital skills, but don’t know where to start.

So it’s more important than ever to find smart ways to reach people and help them.

Top Tips from famous faces

That’s where BT’s Top Tips on Tech campaign comes in. In April and May, with ITV, we ran a series of advert takeovers twice daily during This Morning and the ITV Evening News.

Well known faces from David Walliams to Gareth Southgate to Rylan Clark-Neal shared tech tips that are relevant to the needs people are facing at this time – from connecting with people who can help, to staying safe online. These three and a half minute films are backed up with handy guides that people can download from our website. This gives family and friends concerned about isolated or lonely loved ones the tools they need to help them stay connected.

One of the most popular films is Clare Balding’s guide to using WhatsApp. We know that there are many people out there who have never video called a loved one. In fact, we’ve heard amazing stories during lockdown of people having their first “face to face” call with a family member in over 20 years.

But, as we seek to raise awareness about loneliness this week, we’re aware that there are still many, many people who need help with tech like WhatsApp to connect to the people who matter in their lives.

And that’s where you come in. All of our Top Tips on Tech films and guides can be watched and downloaded at www.bt.com/tech-tips. And this Loneliness Awareness Week, we want people to feel empowered to reach out to others who are isolated and to help them to use technology to connect.

#LetsTalkLoneliness

Technology has become an essential lifeline for millions of people right now. But to combat loneliness, we must ensure that older people can take advantage of the benefits that technology provides, from accessing vital services to staying in touch with family and friends.

Even picking up some relatively simple digital skills can make a huge difference to the lives of older people and those who care for them during lockdown. That’s why BT Skills for Tomorrow is getting involved with Loneliness Awareness Week. Together we can ensure people access the information they need to stay connected and improve their wellbeing during lockdown.

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