‘New lease of life’ as charity app keeps lonely people connected

A SPECIALLY designed app is helping socially isolated and lonely older people in Doncaster stay connected.

The Doncaster Community Agents scheme is offering a new app to reduce loneliness and isolation amongst vulnerable over-65s.

Tap Into was created by North Yorkshire app developers Catalyst especially aimed at older people with no or little digital experience. It allows users to stay in touch with their friends and families, receive reminders and prompts from carers and support services, and it also helps to build digital skills.

The app, which is funded by Doncaster Council, has been developed as part of the Doncaster Community Agents scheme, which sees charities Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY) and the People Focused Group (PFG) support, isolated and vulnerable people. The scheme also provides fully-funded iPads and Internet usage.

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Project coordinator Wayne Munro-Smith said: “The beauty of this app is that older people can receive messages, photos and videos all in one place, without the need to open email, photo or video streaming software and thereby keeping in touch with their friends, family and the outside world.

“Christmas can be a lonely and upsetting time of year when you don’t have friends or family nearby. With the app, you don’t need to be a computer wizard to use it, and you can still receive pictures and messages from people over the festive period. Hopefully, working with a small group of older people in Doncaster, we can demonstrate the effectiveness of this new tool in fighting the rising rates of loneliness and social isolation all around us..”

Jan Milner, the community agent for Intake, where PFG is based, said the iPads had proved really popular and given a “new lease of life” to people involved in the project.

She added: “Tap Into adds a new dimension to the ways in which RAY and PFG are working together to help people. Some of our clients are showing early signs of dementia or have recently been diagnosed, and through this app we can now send reminders for meetings, appointments and events.”

So far ten older people have taken part in a trial using the app, but the charities are appealing for any old or unwanted iPads to be donationed to the project. To donate, call RAY on 0845 313 0270.