Hi Digital BBC Story Works

Cork couple star in online video series about the value of digital skills for older people

18 June 2024
  • New video produced by BBC StoryWorks Commercial Productions follows couple from Mitchelstown in Cork, who have learned vital online skills using Vodafone Foundation’s Hi Digital classes.
  • Hi Digital has to date supported over 60,000 older people in Ireland, with a goal to impact the lives of half a million older people across Europe.

5th June 2024 - Patrick and Liz Downes, a couple from Mitchelstown in Cork, are the stars of a new online video as part of the Consumer Technology Association’s 'The Human Component' series, showcasing their journey with Vodafone Foundation’s Hi Digital programme. The initiative focuses on improving digital skills and online confidence among those aged 65 and above to help combat isolation and loneliness.

 

The video follows 76-year-old Patrick, who rediscovered his passion for woodworking by embracing the digital world with Hi Digital. Supported by his wife Liz, a Girl Guide leader and Hi Digital Champion, and the local Girl Guides Unit, Patrick overcomes his fears to explore the internet for woodworking tools and to keep in contact with his granddaughter. Initially feeling disconnected and uninterested in modern technology following his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Patrick's life took a transformative turn with the introduction of the Hi Digital programme.  Pat's resilience shines as he navigates the digital world guided by Liz and the local Girl Guides.

The five-minute video is available for viewing at Vodafone Foundation (bbc.com). The series highlights innovative technologies that are helping to support a more resilient planet, stronger societies, and healthier communities.

In response to the growing issue of digital exclusion among older adults, the Vodafone Foundation, with charity partner ALONE, launched the Hi Digital initiative in 2021. The free online Hi Digital course is split into short lessons which teach people how to access the internet, use smartphones, stay safe online and identify and avoid scams and fraud. Hi Digital has to date supported over 60,000 older people in Ireland, with the aim to directly impact the lives of half a million older people across Europe. In 2023, Vodafone Foundation launched a partnership with the Irish Girl Guides to provide Hi Digital classes in 25 of their units around Ireland. To date, 25 Girl Guides units across the country have been trained as Digital Champions and have trained over 2000 older people. 

The video also features the Vodafone store team in Oliver Plunkett Street. Retail Advisor Judy Collins introduces Hi Digital Drop-In Fridays, where older people can drop into their local Vodafone store for free, practical support and advice on phones and tablets every Friday between 10.00-1.00pm. Stores in Cork include: Oliver Plunkett Street, Main Street Midleton, Wilton Shopping Centre, and Mahon Point Shopping Centre. Drop-In Fridays is open to all, Vodafone, and non-Vodafone customers alike.

Liz Downes, reflecting on her involvement with Hi Digital, said: “It's about more than just teaching digital skills, it's about fostering connections and breaking down barriers that can leave older generations feeling isolated. Through Hi Digital, we're building bridges between generations and creating a sense of belonging for everyone.”

Judy Collins, Vodafone Retail Advisor in Oliver Plunket Street, said: “I am delighted to see this video come to life, showcasing the fantastic impact the Hi Digital initiative has on the older generation. It's heart-warming to witness stories like Patrick and Liz's and see first-hand how Hi Digital is empowering older people with the knowledge and tools to navigate the digital world, reclaim their passions and stay connected with loved ones. We are thrilled to be able to provide this support”.

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