Smart Living | Hi Digital

Hi Digital | 07 Sep 2022

Gloria Hunniford: ‘I didn’t want to be left behind’

As Vodafone Foundation launches Hi Digital, a digital skills resource for older people, we ask why some seniors are still worried about going online.

Broadcaster and consumer champion Gloria Hunniford, 82, is the epitome of self-assured professionalism and media savoir faire, but even she admits that when it came to technology she was “a little fearful” at first.

“I was one of those many over 65s who felt uncomfortable going online, but these days so much of our lives is online – from banking to doctor’s appointments – I didn’t want to be left behind, and my grandchildren told me I had to get on and join the 21st Century!”

Gloria was helping Vodafone Foundation publicise its new Hi Digital learning resource for older people, created with the help of charity Independent Age. Hi Digital aims to help over 65s learn digital skills and make the most of what the internet and social media has to offer.

Fear of going online could cost over 65s almost £1,000 a year

New study reveals over 65s could be missing out on the UK’s best deals, as Vodafone Foundation and Independent Age launch new Hi Digital platform to help seniors gain digital skills, save money, and feel more connected.

“I really like the fact that Hi Digital offers step-by-step courses that I can do in my own time – it hopefully also helps take away a lot of the anxiety and sense of panic for people,” she says. “And it’s free!”

Once you overcome these anxieties a whole new world awaits, she believes.

“I can search for clothes online and sometimes find stuff that’s better and cheaper,” says Gloria. “And it’s great for keeping in touch with friends and relatives.”

Research by Vodafone UK Foundation found that over 65s could be losing almost £1,000 a year by not being computer savvy, while a worrying 45% admitted they don’t feel completely comfortable going online.

“The whole world is going online these days, it’s where some of the best deals are, so if you don’t learn how to do it, you could risk losing out.”

‘A whole new world’

Another Hi Digital enthusiast, Yvonne de Burgo, 77, from Witney in Oxfordshire, tells Vodafone UK News: “When I started I was terrified of technology! But I like to try new things and got a computer in my late 50s – I was fascinated by what it could do.

“Then I went online and it changed my life enormously. I can order prescriptions, make doctor’s appointments, look at my medical records, do the shopping, find clothes bargains without having to traipse round a store, and keep in touch with my children and relatives through video calls and on social media.

It’s opened up a whole new world to me – and I’m still learning

To those older people who are still reluctant to take the plunge and explore what the internet has to offer, Yvonne says: “Just try it, find someone kind who can show you how to do it. Don’t be frightened; it doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. Take it one step at a time and your confidence will grow.”

Yvonne is such an enthusiast she actually teaches other older people how to get online on a computer or smartphone and volunteers for Independent Age as an advisor. She believes that one of the greatest advantages of the internet is that it can help combat loneliness in older people, a point that Gloria makes, too.

“A lot of older people feel isolated and lonely,” says Yvonne, “and this was made a lot worse during the pandemic lockdowns. But being able to see friends and family online really opens up the world to them.”

So Yvonne’s advice to older people?

“Get online! You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. You’ll be amazed how much it changes your life.”

Try the free Hi Digital courses for yourself, or forward the link to someone you think might benefit.

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