Published on mediablends.com September 20 2016
This morning I went to a consultation meeting on the future of the forum for older people, Positive Ageing in London. It was chaired by Mervyn Eastman, and organised by Age UK London.
The news was not good: almost all funding has been cut by the Government, and staff support will be limited.
But the discussion was wide-ranging and creative, helped by Mervyn's “let's be positive” approach, and well-organised group discussion.
Mervyn had invited me along to talk about things digital, not least because in January 2014 Drew Mackie and I ran a game at a PAIL event to launch a comprehensive digital inclusion report with Age UK London.
As you'll see from the report here we asked people then to invent some fictitious characters, and come up with ideas on how they could use their personal tech, apps and the Internet to develop their interests and make new connections.
As I reported here, the future of the JUD initiative is in doubt, because of a failed funding bid. However the PAIL event gave me confidence that we could take forward - perhaps in different ways - some the ideas developed over the past year.
Firstly, when I asked how many of the 50 or so people present had smartphones or tablets - and found them essential - almost everyone put their hand up. We all agreed they would be even more important in future. That means more help for those who aren't connected or confident, and exploration in more detail of the benefits to older people.
Secondly, people at our table were keenly interested in how personal tech and network communications could enable a forum like PAIL to rethink operations … making the most of the skills of members and reducing central costs.
We need new civil society models for the digital age … and on the evidence of today I think older people involved in ageing organisations may up for it.
In addition, I found interest in a London version of the JUD game, and people who might explore together in more depth how digital tech, radio, together with face-to-face sociability can help people connect and share their passions … which is Mervyn's personal enthusiasm. His was the one contribution at the May event that won applause all round.
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I think we could also find support from the Digital Inclusion group of Age Action Alliance, where a group of us are exploring how to share stories of older people using digital tech, make better use of the knowledge developed in the field, and use that to develop new projects.