Welcome to the (digitally) active citizen

In 1991, Estonia enthusiastically embraced its freedom and independence from the Soviet Union, but its economy was in a parlous situation. It faced overwhelming bills just to sustain its basic public services. A leading light in its Government, who went on to serve for ten years from 2006 as President Toomas Ilves, was an autodidact computer programmer, and forcefully advocated that those public services would only be sustainable if the country embraced the digital economy. So it came to pass that everyone had to sharpen up their skills, and get used to paying their taxes, updating their health records, registering their right to citizen benefits, voting, and even applying for a bus pass online. No exceptions. Continue reading “Welcome to the (digitally) active citizen”

Guest blog: What are the challenges and opportunities for ageing and cognitive decline for financial services?

Steven Cooper, Chief Executive, Personal Banking, Barclays UK, speaking at the Global Agenda Council on Ageing Symposium 2016
Steven Cooper, Chief Executive, Personal Banking, Barclays UK, speaking at the Global Agenda Council on Ageing Symposium 2016

This guest blog was contributed by Steven Cooper, Chief Executive, Personal Banking, Barclays UK. 

With over 10 million people in the UK over 65 and 850,000 people living with dementia, this is a crucial question, and one posed by the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Ageing at their conference and symposium on 3 and 4 February.

Barclays was very pleased to sponsor this conference and play an active part in the discussions. Older people provide huge benefits to our society and economy, caring for children and volunteering their time. As one of the largest banks in the UK we have a diverse customer base and older customers make up a significant proportion- around a quarter of our current accounts are held by someone over 60. Continue reading “Guest blog: What are the challenges and opportunities for ageing and cognitive decline for financial services?”

Who are the older digitally excluded?

This blog was contributed by David Mortimer, Head of Digital Inclusion, at Age Age UK.

For many years, local and national organisations have been working to support individuals learn how to use computers. Despite many good initiatives and easier to use technology, new approaches are needed to reach and support those at risk of being increasingly cut off from the public and commercial service offers which assume both access and the skills to use their products.

That this remains primarily an older person’s issue is no surprise, but most older people have joined the digital age and many are competent. Those who have been left out, or have chosen to be left out, are not a homogenous group with one catch-all solution.440x210-two-men-laughing-computer

The traditional approach of marketing the benefits of being online has a role, but will continue to miss the mark for the majority of ‘digitally excluded’ older people. With so many simply not seeing any relevance of engaging with technology to them, the benefits should be seamed through everyday interventions and social activities so that older people can make choices based on a better knowledge of how this technology can enhance their unique combination of interests and circumstances. Continue reading “Who are the older digitally excluded?”

Equal access to services

Unlikely as it sounds, a recent 153 page legal decision about VAT returns could  prove to be a turning point in the campaign to get recognition of the needs of many older people when it comes to using online services.

In what’s being hailed as a significant  and closely watched decision,  a judge has upheld the right of three small business owners not to file their VAT returns on line. Two of those who brought the court case have disabilities. The other lives in a remote part of the country without reliable broadband access.200x160_hand-uses-mouse

In her ruling, the judge said it is a breach of the human rights act to require VAT forms to be filed online without exemption for older people, those with disabilities or who live in isolated parts of the country.

For Age UK, the decision is very welcome. Equal access to services not just for older people but everyone, has long been one of our core campaigning goals. Continue reading “Equal access to services”

Guest blog: Virtually Dead – a new radio play

This guest blog was contributed by Liz Baker, who is currently a student of the M.A. in Writing course at Warwick University.

When, over quarter of a century ago, I watched my toddler niece teach my mother how to use a microwave, it set me thinking about the pace of change in our world, a pace so fast that toddlers quickly became teachers.

Liz Baker
Liz Baker

For children, everything is new so nothing is daunting, but for many adults born before the 1980s, adapting to the internet was – and still is – a big and scary change. In a few decades we have moved from sending first hesitant emails to using the internet to run our lives, do our shopping, find our loves and even manage our finances. Continue reading “Guest blog: Virtually Dead – a new radio play”

Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people

This blog was contributed by Alice Woudhuysen, Senior Campaigner at Age UK.

It’s a well-known fact that we live in a rapidly ageing society, to the extent that by 2083, about one in three people in the UK will be over 60 (ONS 2009).

Rural image 1This is, of course, a significant advancement and cause for celebration: longer lives represent progress and older people are big contributors to society.

Perhaps less well known is the fact that rural communities are ageing faster than their urban counterparts, with the number of people aged 85+ set to increase by 186 per cent by 2028 in rural areas, compared with just 149 per cent in the UK as a whole (Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, for Cabinet Office, 2009). This is down to rising life expectancy, the outward migration of younger people to cities and the inward migration of people entering middle age to the countryside. Continue reading “Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people”

Guest blog – Meet one of our joint Internet Champions 2013

This blog was contributed by Janet Tchamani , 55, from Kings Heath, who was crowned joint Internet Champion of the Year in 2013.

I’m so proud and excited to be an Age UK joint Internet Champion! To be chosen for a role I believe in so strongly in puts a great big smile on my face. In this, my first blog for Age UK, I’ll be filling you in on my background and explaining what inspired me to get online.

Janet Tchamani and June Whitfield
Janet Tchamani and June Whitfield

One of the first things people find out about me is that I am bipolar. While I don’t let that define me, it is a fact that’s absolutely central to the story of my journey to becoming one of Age UK’s Internet Champions this year.

I was 50 when I was properly diagnosed, following a series of what I would call mini-breakdowns. I became unable to cope, lost my career and quite a bit more besides. That was when I found myself searching the internet for the first time, and eventually found my way to the brilliant Bipolar UK website. I already had a guiding light in Stephen Fry, one of the judges of the Internet Champion Awards. Continue reading “Guest blog – Meet one of our joint Internet Champions 2013”