Since the start of the pandemic Age Concern has seen a large increase in demand for its services, with over 23,000 new visitors to its website and a jump in engagement on social media.
But there’s also been a huge increase in demand for non-digital services. In April - during the first lockdown - Age Concern set up a new free helpline (0800 652105) for those older people unable to afford an Internet connection or struggling to use devices. From April to May the incoming calls increased by over 450%.
“It’s fantastic that older kiwis know they can rely on us as a trusted source of information about Covid-19, but it also highlights an accessibility problem,” says Clare.
To address this, using a $500,000 donation from ANZ (NZ), Age Concern is working on a digital literacy plan that will help older kiwis to get online.
“We’re so grateful for ANZ’s generous donation because we know that there is a huge need for education and support to help people to use online services. The first lockdown exposed a gap where older people needed to get groceries, medication and information online but had no access to that channel. We can help rectify that!”
The initiative is part of the charity’s strategy to ensure seniors are not excluded from technology opportunities that can improve our lives as we age, a key part of the Ministry of Social Development’s ‘Better Later Life’ strategy.
Age Concern New Zealand expects the need for technology education will increase over the next 15 years as New Zealand’s population ages.