A QUIN man has been appointed as one of Ireland’s first digital ambassador for Active Retirement Ireland.
After a rigorous tech training programme, Eugene Philips was conferred with the prestigious honour at a special event at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin.
The 75-year-old will now lead a series of free digital skills classes for older people in the community. The initiative is part of the Vodafone Ireland Foundation Hi Digital programme, in partnership with Active Retirement Ireland and ALONE.
Over the past three months, Eugene has undergone intensive technology training, Hi Digital train-the-trainer training and Hi Digital platform training.
“I think for a lot of older people with low or no digital literacy, they perhaps feel as though getting online is too big a task or they’re too far behind,” said Mr Philips.
“You don’t have to be a tech whizz — technology these days is designed to be easy for people to use and the Hi Digital courses are really accessible and designed for beginners. I am looking forward to guiding and supporting people so that they can see they really can do it.”
The Hi Digital programme has been developed to empower older people in Ireland to build basic and essential digital skills, and help them to stay connected in their communities.
Active Retirement Ireland in-person classes will follow the Vodafone Ireland Foundation Hi Digital online learning platform and cover essential topics including using the internet, using smartphones, sending emails, keeping in touch through social media or video calling, accessing online banking and government services, and shopping and making electronic payments online.
Tuition is also provided in online communication and recreational services including how to use WhatsApp, watch television or listen to the radio online, plan driving routes and other travel, and book events, outings and holidays online.
Commenting on Mr Philips’ graduation as a digital ambassador, Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland, described digital exclusion of older people as “a real and growing problem”.
“Through this new stage of the Hi Digital programme, our digital ambassador-led, in-person classes will further support older people’s participation online,” Ms Kavanagh said.
“This will help ensure they have the appropriate access and skills to engage with digital services, along with expanding the possibilities on offer to them from the digital shift. We are so proud of our digital ambassadors who have given up so much of their time for training and who now want to share their skills with others in their communities.”
Mr Philips is the South-West Region Spokesperson for Active Retirement Ireland. The organisation represents more than 500 Active Retirement Associations throughout Ireland, with a total membership of more than 24,000 people.
It aims to end loneliness by offering older people opportunities to enjoy an active and healthy retirement.
Hi Digital was set up last September and is a nationwide social partnership between Vodafone Ireland Foundation, Active Retirement Ireland and ALONE.
The programme has been developed to help bridge the worsening digital divide in Ireland by supporting more than 230,000 older people to learn basic and essential digital skills through free self-guided online or in-person training.
Older people who wish to learn or refresh their digital skills can start today with the free, self-guided Hi Digital online courses, in both English and Irish, at Hidigital.ie.
The online courses can be completed at home, either independently or with help from friends, family or other people in their community.