Tuesday, 29 January 2008
One thing that's struck me going round to talk to people is how many of our older members have their own emails and basic web skills.
I've always felt the retired are an untapped resource for the community. While some might rightly want to enjoy their retirement following their own pursuits, others would still jump at the chance to volunteer and get involved but they can't get out as much.
As more services are moving online, it's vital all our elderly don't get left behind and become digitally excluded. Digital exclusion is one of the core indicators of social exclusion.
That's why Silver Surfers' Day is such a great idea
Held in Adult Learners Week, the day (this year it's Friday May 23rd) sees lots of taster events held across the country to encourage older people to get online and learn more about the interent and how it can empower them.
Schools, community centres and even work places with internet access are encouraged to open up their buildings so students and employees can mentor budding Silver Surfers in how to send an email and browse the internet. Some companies even run Bring Your Parent to Work Days.
With the growth of broadband and the internet playing an ever greater role in our lives, I believe internet providers should be taking the lead in getting more pensioners online and engaged.
These days, an internet highway pass could be just as important in an OAP's life as their bus pass. Both allow the freedom to travel, explore and keep mind and soul active.
We're rightly proud of the success of Kingston Communications - it gave us unlimited cheap local calls, the first interactive broadband TV system and a fantastic Community stadium.
How great would it be for KCom to offer an internet highway pass allowing free broadband access to those over 65. Hull could once again be a trailblazer as we were with universal healthy free school meals - Scotland is piloting them and Wales look set to follow.
And we could raise an army of Silver Surfers prepared to contribute to the community.