Clicksilver moves to virtual coaching supported by Capital One

Post author image. Nicola Burton
Nicola Burton, Operations Director at Business in the Community (BITC), discusses how BITC’s Clicksilver programme is tackling social isolation and loneliness. Learn how your organisation can help.


Before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 5 million older people said that television or pets were their main form of company1. Measures designed to protect us from the pandemic, such as social distancing, while helping keep people safe have increased feelings of social isolation and loneliness2.

One way of tackling this is through digital technology. However more than half of over 65s have none of the foundational digital skills they need3. This means they might not understand how to connect to the internet, employ accessibility tools on a device to make it easier to use or understand the importance of keeping passwords safe. Helping address this can improve the wellbeing of vulnerable people.

Since 2012, Business in the Community (BITC) has been working to address this problem through its Clicksilver programme. The programme matches vulnerable and older people with volunteer mentors from businesses, who support them to develop digital skills and confidence online. This sharing of skills and knowledge helps to increase beneficiaries’ independence and reduce feelings of loneliness while bridging the digital divide between young and old. Clicksilver has supported over 1,700 people since 2012.

“I have just finished my course which proved to be more about confidence building as I am always scared of any new machinery and convinced I will break it. But I have now discovered Facebook which I have only really used to wish happy birthday or answering messages. Excellent tutor who never got cross if I didn’t get it the first time.”

Clicksilver participant

To address the increased need created by the pandemic, BITC, with funding from financial corporation Capital One, is now delivering Clicksilver online. We are delighted that the first cohort has now completed the programme and have been left feeling more confident about navigating the digital world.

“I have more confidence, I can access things online and have been using the internet to look up recipes and local shops. I can send emails. Without this programme, my tablet would still be in the box.”

Clicksilver participant

Clicksilver sessions are designed around the needs of the participant and adapted to the current climate. Topics covered can include changing computer settings, making video calls, using social media and shopping online safely. Mentors are paired with participants and work together over four, one-to-one coaching sessions lasting 30-60 minutes.

“My mentor has been amazing, she is wonderful, kind, patient, has a great attitude, has a sense of humour, gives me little projects to do myself over the week and is just a wonderful person. I look forward to learning now.”

Clicksilver participant

Although for now it feels like lockdown restrictions are easing the need for the programme continues with the UK facing a period of recovery and economic uncertainty post-pandemic. Social isolation and loneliness remain. The funding from Capital One means we are reaching more people, however the demand for Clicksilver is still far greater than we can currently meet.

We are looking for strong partners to join us our journey and support our efforts through funding partnerships and offering a pool of volunteers. Contact us if your organisation can help us tackle digital exclusion, social isolation and loneliness.

creating a sustainable solution to the UK’s digital divide

References

  1. Age UK (2015) Evidence Review: Loneliness in Later Life
  2. University of Stirling (2020) Social distancing is increasing loneliness in older adults, 9 November
  3. Centre for Ageing Better (2018) Digital skills, for life, 6 March 2017