Headlines: January 14th, 2010

Thousands of people living in sheltered housing are to get access to the Internet in an initiative that its supporters say will transform their lives. Local schools will also forge links with sheltered accommodation schemes so young and old people can learn online skills together.

Two thirds of people over 65 living in sheltered homes currently have no access to the Internet. The 2.9 million pound ‘Get Digital’ programme is designed to help them become Internet savvy and enjoy the social and economic benefits of the digital world. The scheme is being delivered for the government by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education and Digital Unite and will give residents access to computers and training.

The government says that Digital Unite’s experience suggests that learning digital skills can transform the lives of older people, bringing residents together as they discover shared interests and passions. The Communities Minister, Lord McKenzie, said: “For thousands of people this programme could be truly life changing. Older people who currently don’t have access to the Internet miss out on the benefits that millions of us enjoy everyday.”

Under the scheme, Get Digital will work with 195 sheltered housing schemes, including 81 in rural areas to give 7,800 residents internet access by the end of March next year. It will also extend access to a further 300 schemes and up to 20,000 residents in total. It will promote partnerships with schools and other groups of young people for ‘intergenerational learning activities’ in a move to develop greater trust between younger and older people, helping to reduce the fear of young people in some neighbourhoods.