Digital Inclusion for Older People

This October the Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network came together to celebrate the network members’ efforts to support digital inclusion in 2023 and identify shared priorities for 2024.

Over 50 people working with older people across the city attended the event at Virgin Money to hear about best practice as well as form new partnerships that support their digital inclusion offers. Network members Burmantofts Community Friends and Your Backyard shared learning, Good Things Foundation shared support and resources available, and Virgin Money shared partnership opportunities for the network. The event also featured a marketplace with organisations discussing key themes such as accessibility, changes to telephone services, and health and wellbeing.

“It was great to meet up with so many people and organisations doing digital inclusion work across Leeds at the networking event…there is so much going on in this area, and so much is needed as more and more key services get moved online. It’s a massive help having 100% Digital Leeds periodically bringing us all together every to share information, network and share ideas.”

Tony Mullin, Your Backyard.

Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network

The Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network is a partnership between 100% Digital Leeds and Leeds Older People’s Forum, bringing together 38 organisations supporting older people across the city. The network builds sector capacity to support digital inclusion for older people by identifying shared priorities, forging new partnerships, and sharing learning and resources. 

The network’s digital inclusion priorities for 2024 were identified as:

  • Transport
  • Online safety
  • Online banking and money management
  • Digital health participation
  • Shopping for utilities and fuel poverty
  • Recruiting and managing volunteers

The network has worked to address some of these priorities this year. Transport Connections has been exploring how to improve transport options for older people with support from Department for Transport’s ‘Tackling loneliness with transport’ fund. Be Online Stay Safe supports older people in diverse communities to overcome the digital inclusion barriers they face to accessing media literacy with the support of Department for Culture, Media, and Sport’s Media Literacy Programme Fund.

Key takeaways from the network meeting

New network shared resource repository

A shared drive has been created as a place members can access and share useful tools and resources such as ‘how to’ guides and digital skills session plans. Members are encouraged to upload any documents they have created that they think others may find useful, facilitating peer support across the network.

Current content on the Older People’s Digital Inclusion Network shared drive includes ‘How to’ guides for travel apps and information about Digital Voice, BT’s new home telephone service.

Support available from Good Things Foundation

We were joined by Good Things Foundation, the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity. They support organisations via their National Digital Inclusion Network which is free to join. Support includes:

  • The National Databank, via which organisations can get free SIM cards with 4G data, calls and texts to gift to those struggling to afford connectivity.
  • The National Device Bank, via which organisations can get reconditioned tablets and smartphones to gift to those unable to afford a device.
  • Learn My Way, an eLearning platform which organisations can use to support digital skills.
  • The Fix the Digital Divide Fund gives grants of between £1,000 and £6,000 for organisations looking to build their digital inclusion capabilities.
  • Training and networking opportunities for organisations looking to develop their digital inclusion offers.

Partnership and signposting opportunities from Virgin Money

Virgin Money is the first bank in the UK to sign up to the National Databank with plans to distribute SIM cards from 16 stores across the country, including several Leeds branches. They also offer free money management advice and support in store and out in the community.

MHA Active app

MHA offer a free lifestyle and wellness app that provides a host of content tailored to an older audience. Users can access carefully created content from exercise videos and cooking demonstrations to quizzes and live events. The app also has a specialist dementia friendly section.

Digital skills and accessibility support from AbilityNet

AbilityNet showcased their free online resources and promoted their network of over 300 community-based volunteers to help older people and disabled people of any age to use all kinds of digital technology.

  • My Computer My Way offers simple ‘how to’ guides to utilise accessibility features to make devices easier to use. The guides offer step-by-step instructions on how to adapt a phone, computer, or tablet to meet the user’s needs.
  • AbilityNet has a team of volunteers who can provide free IT support at home. They can help with a range of tech challenges including setting up new equipment, fixing technical issues, showing people how to stay connected to family, and using online services.
  • The organisation runs free webinars on a range of topics. Their upcoming ‘Top tips for boosting your digital skills’ webinar will see guest speakers from BT Group and Age UK discuss how to ensure that older people, in particular, are not left behind in the digital revolution.

Digital support and access from Leeds Libraries

Leeds Libraries highlighted a selection of their digital resources:

BT Digital Voice

Digital Voice is the name of BT’s new home phone service. All landlines are going digital meaning from calls will be made over the broadband network, rather than the old analogue network. Analogue landline technology will be switched off in December 2025. The switchover started in April with people who were ready to switch. BT is working with charities such as AbilityNet and AgeUK to ensure everyone will be ready to make the switch by 2025. Find more information about Digital Voice on the network shared drive.

Video introducing digital voice

Next Steps

The next Older People Digital Inclusion Network meeting will take place on 23rd January 2024. If you would like to join the network, please email