As our population ages, we must ensure older people can thrive in our city. Too many older Londoners get lost in the crowd and are unable to make the most of later life.
Yesterday I went to a Techy Tea Party, hosted by Age UK London at the HQ of Amazon Audible. It was part of #happytochat, a new campaign from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness. The party reminded me of how important both personal and virtual connections can be for older people. It was great to know the older people there were being given new skills to help them connect with social networks. They’ll also be able to find vital information and services online in the future.
My ambition is for every single Londoner to be an active citizen who is connected into their community. Digital inclusion is one of the ways we can make this happen. That’s why over the next year the Mayor will pilot Mi Wifi. It’s a scheme for lending wifi-enabled devices and teaching digital skills at local libraries and community centres. It focuses on digital inclusion for those groups less likely to be online, like older Londoners.
Of course, that’s just part of the picture. Last year, only around half of Londoners agreed that there are good relations between older and younger people in their local area. Around half agreed that people in their local area were happy to help their neighbours. Events like the Techy Tea Party can help change this dynamic by making time and space for real interaction.
Jo Cox’s vision to eliminate loneliness amongst older people resonates with me. Small interactions like a chat with your neighbour, an email to check in, or a conversation with a shopkeeper can help. These everyday connections can make a huge difference to the wellbeing of people and communities. Each of us has a part to play in making London a kinder, more connected place to live.
Matthew Ryder Q.C.
Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement
Want to help reduce loneliness amongst older Londoners in your local area? Whether you have just a few hours or a month to spare, there are plenty of ways that you can help. Find a volunteering opportunity that suits you now.