'Digital buddies' offer IT support to Trafford's older generation



Young people in Trafford have been pairing up with older members of the community to give one-to-one assistance with using mobile phones, tablets and computers.

The project, named ‘Digital Buddies’, was set up by social action charity Salford Foundation as part of their Covid-19 response, and aims to support people who are struggling to use their digital devices. People requiring help are linked with a trained young person who will help them to solve digital skills challenges, as well as have a friendly chat.

The scheme helps people who may be finding it difficult to communicate with friends or family; who may be isolated and struggling; or who may just benefit from hearing a friendly voice to help counter any feelings of loneliness.

Students from Wellington School in Timperley have been speaking regularly with their buddies – the oldest of whom is 101 - for several weeks.

Participant Lucy, 15, says:

Digital Buddies has been an amazing way to help people in the community. I look forward to my weekly call with my buddy, because I not only enjoy helping with the technology side of things, but she is fun to chat with and we catch up to see how each other is doing during this strange time”.

Lucy’s buddy Penelope enjoys their regular calls, and regards the project as useful in helping young people gain soft skills for their future. She says:

Lucy is very sweet, good, and computer literate. The Digital Buddies programme is great as it completes a knowledge gap that needs filling. It really makes a difference to have someone that can talk at my level and help me to understand. We have regular weekly calls and it’s helpful as I couldn’t otherwise learn or join a class. It is also two-way; it is good for the young people as it gives them confidence and a way to use their skills.”

Jo Harding, Trafford Council Executive Member for Adult Services, said:

This is an excellent inter-generational scheme that brings real benefits to both the recipients and their helpers.

For members of the community struggling with digital devices, it has been a lifeline to link up with a Digital Buddy and develop the tools to communicate remotely with friends and family and to access essential services online.

For the young people involved it’s been a great opportunity to share the wealth of digital skills they take for granted, and see how this can make a difference to the lives of people around them. It’s great to hear how friendships have formed along the way and the pleasure that has brought to all parties.”

Due to the success of the scheme, Salford Foundation is now looking for more young people to sign up as Digital Buddies. Full training is provided and Digital Buddies coordinators will be on hand to monitor the relationships for the duration of the project.

For more information, or to request support, please call 07931 732791 or 07714 749562 or email digitalbuddies@salfordfoundation.org.uk or visit Salford Foundation’s website.

Posted on Friday 12th June 2020