Most people’s relationship with technology has changed a lot over the last 14 months. Our lives have been transformed: how we meet, speak, learn, shop, and relax.
From the Zoom-busy relatives to the families struggling with home schooling several children on one or two devices, via the roads filling with food delivery mopeds and the gifts all bought without touching or seeing them: tech and Covid seem to go hand in hand.
At Re-engage, over the last couple of years we’ve been sharing ideas with charities and companies about ways in which technology can help to reduce loneliness. Vodafone’s report on technology and loneliness amongst the over 50s kickstarted a great many conversations around us and since then we’ve looked at the digital divide and its implications for older people.
We hadn’t imagined that we’d be directly delivering any of our programmes over the internet but then Covid-19 forced a re-think and our newly introduced online exercise groups have been a great success.
That said, my interest was not just the ways in which a charity like Re-engage might use technology for direct service delivery, especially as Ofcom had reported that 51% of over 75s don’t use the internet.
I was determined to include the importance of technology in our strategic vision because charities deal with serious issues and serious issues need ambitious solutions.
Re-engage is proud to be a charity that reaches a remarkable number of people and we do this by working with a team of volunteers who give their time and energy to make life less lonely for some wonderful older people.
So, our technology focus right now is building a system that will allow us to work better with our volunteers and older people.
Our trustees and funders have had the foresight to invest in developing a system which will allow us to bring older people and volunteers into the organisation more quickly and smoothly and will help us to make the best possible match for our call companions.
It will also allow us to identify when and where support is needed so that our staff team can move quickly to give support and resolve issues.
We’ve built our system with our development partner and are making our way through the inevitable teething issues right now - and there have been a few delays - but we’ll all soon feel the full benefits and the potential of the system is tremendous.
Gradually we’ll be able to add more and more elements to it and make an even greater impact. Crucially, this system frees up our skilled staff team to do what they are great at: working with older people and volunteers to make the world less lonely.
Every system needs a name, and we held a competition across the team to find a name for ours. It’s called OPUS which stands for Older People and Us.
Meet Jane, one of our volunteer drivers
During Volunteers' Week we're celebrating our volunteers. Meet Jane, one of our volunteer drivers.
A shared love of music
Call companions Joan and Zoe share a love of music. Joan has sung as a tenor for The Big Sing Choir since 2014 and Zoe is a gifted young soprano whose reputation has been celebrated worldwide.