A TRAIL-BLAZING new initiative to tackle loneliness and isolation among older people and make them better connected has been launched in Castlemilk.

At the heart of it is a plan to bring young people and those in later life together to help the young at heart become more “digitally aware.”

Now Ardenglen Housing Association, which is behind the move, has been awarded funding totalling £15,454 from The National Lottery Community Fund to make it happen.

Known as the “Connected Castlemilk Digital Intergenerational Programme” its key aim is to make sure older people in the community become more aware of local activities and to help them pick up digital skills.

It is being delivered in partnership with Castlemilk Youth Complex.

Fiona McGovern, Community Regeneration Officer at Ardenglen, said: “This is a hugely-significant development and we are immensely grateful to receive such generous funding from the National Lottery.

“The situation with digital exclusion among older people has been brought sharply into focus during the ongoing health emergency with worrying numbers of older people unable to connect digitally to what’s going on or what help might be available.

“We are determined to change that and with our partners in Castlemilk we have been working very hard in recent months to ensure older people are not left behind.

“Young people and older people are a natural fit and bringing them together will undoubtedly have positive outcomes for both.”

Ardenglen swung into action after the coronavirus crisis starkly revealed how older people were, in some cases, detached from everyday life – made all the more worrying because of the sheer numbers shielding or who have no family nearby.

Betty Campbell is one Castlemilk senior citizen among the first to benefit after receiving a tablet device to help her become more digitally aware.

She is now using it to see and chat to her grandchildren in Jersey and Australia.

Betty said: “It’s wonderful. It makes thing so much easier and being able to keep in touch with my grandchildren during the lockdown is fantastic.”

The new programme’s aims are:

*To ensure the young at heart become more connected digitally by giving them confidence to use new technology and the internet

*Young people will be encouraged to apply for relevant youth awards based on the help they provide for older people

*Young people will use the experience of helping older people to enhance their college or university applications and also make them an appealing prospect for potential employers

*Isolation and loneliness will be tackled when senior citizens become more digitally connected to friends and family

Meanwhile a new “Connected Castlemilk” website is being created bringing many community activities together in one place – making it easier for people to assess which ones they are interested in.

Ardenglen Housing Association's “Community Committee” – made up of volunteers - has for several years sought to bring the community together with events for children, families and seniors throughout the year.

Audrey Simpson, Chief Executive of Ardenglen Housing Association, said: “We are delighted to be doing our bit to tackle digital inequality – especially among older people.

"This is an exciting project which will have far-reaching benefits in terms of inclusion by bringing the young and old together.

"It will open new doors for those in later life and that is something everyone will welcome.”