The New Digital Normal- has Covid-19 made us better connected or driven a wider technological wedge?

Tue, Aug 4, 2020, 2:00 PM (BST)


“Lockdown may leave a lasting digital legacy. The coronavirus has radically changed the way we live, work and communicate online, with millions of people using online video services for the first time. As the way we communicate evolves and people broaden their online horizons, our role is to help ensure that people have a positive experience, and that they’re safe and protected.” Ofcom, June 2020

In February 2020, less than one in four over-65's took part in a video call during a typical week. By May, it was over 60% - and rising. But who is still being left out, and what has been happening during this pandemic to bring older people into a world rapidly reliant on digital transactions for almost everything?

The regulators, the tech companies and the government are proudly stating that digitised lives are here to stay. Are they right?

Here is a moment for new conversation - and new action - to make access to reliable internet a right for everyone who wants it. So what will it take?

Join us for an open, informal debate on the challenge of digital inclusion in 2020 and beyond. The informal debate will be chaired by Richard Freeman, CEO of always possible.  Speakers will include Caroline Ridley, CEO  from Impact Initiatives,  Emily  Kenward, Founder and CEO of Time To Talk Befriending, Rich Denyer-Bewick, MD of Citizens online  and  Henglien Lisa Chen, Ph. D.  a social worker, gerontologist, lecturer and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Social Work Innovation and Research at the University of Sussex.

Richard Freeman is CEO of always possible, and a specialist in organisational and place-making strategy, workforce development, inclusive growth and business development. His experience spans the voluntary sector, further education, local government and private enterprise, and he is an adviser to education networks, thinktanks and creative business groups across the UK

Caroline Ridley has worked with older people in Sussex for over 20 years, developing innovation to maintain health and well-being and reduce isolation. Developments have included The Ageing Well Festival and the first internet café and courses specifically for people aged 50+ - using the original handbag style Apple laptops.

Emily Kenward, Founder & CEO of Time to Talk Befriending (TTTB). Specialising in reducing loneliness among the older generation through connection, engagement and friendship. Historically their scheme members have chosen to remain off-line however in light of the recent pandemic TTTB is keen to explore if older people’s attitudes towards technology have changed.

Rich Denyer-Bewick MD of Citizens online and is responsible for overall operations and their collaboration with the One Digital partnership. A keen tech and systems change advocate, Rich brings over 14 years of local government experience, including senior management of integrated health and social care services, homelessness and housing. Rich has first-hand experience of client-side digital inclusion and transformation projects.

Henglien Lisa Chen, Ph. D. is a social worker, gerontologist, lecturer and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Social Work Innovation and Research at the University of Sussex. Lisa’s research profile is centred on the policy and practice of long-term care. They include quality of life of older people and their carers, care service evaluations and development, and the care workforce within the long-term care system. Lisa has many publications of cross-national research in social policy and social care practice on ageing care. 

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