Digital volunteers to keep older people switched on

Kilkenny Digital ‘Champions’ are being trained up across the city and county to ensure that their elderly neighbours can remain ‘switched on’ when TV’s analogue systems are finally switched off in favour of digital signals on October 24.

Kilkenny Digital ‘Champions’ are being trained up across the city and county to ensure that their elderly neighbours can remain ‘switched on’ when TV’s analogue systems are finally switched off in favour of digital signals on October 24.

The Fr. McGrath Family Centre, Kilkenny working with The Wheel and the Departmentt of Communications, will be working with volunteers from community, social and sports groups across the county to ensure those people with older systems, many of them elderly people who are living alone or in isolated areas, do not lose the vital lifeline TV brings to their life.

Digital ‘Champions’ as the trained volunteers are called, have already being recruited in the City, Urlingford, Callan, Windgap and Kilmanagh and Graignamanagh areas but more are needed across the county if those older people affected are to be guaranteed a continuation of a television service that is vital to many of their lives.

Jo Conroy is employed by the Fr. McGrath Centre and is working closely with Kilkenny Contact, the befriending service for older people, to coordinate a county plan to protect older people and those living alone or in isolated areas and make sure that they are not adversely affected by the switchover.

“We are appealing to community groups and organisations and people in every parish in the city and county to get involved and make sure your older neighbours are not switched off from one of their most important source of news and contact with the rest of the world. Many people with older aerials or TV’s may have to upgrade their systems or they could find themselves without a TV signal,” she said.

The local Champions will be trained to answer any questions people may have or to direct them to expert support to ensure they do not lose their signal after the national switchover.

“The aim of our county plan is to try and find local volunteers in every parish of Kilkenny to look out for older people who could lose their signal and sort them out or direct them to expert support to ensure they don’t lose their lifeline to the rest of the world,” Jo said.

“We hope parish, sports, community and social groups in the county will do their bit and look out for their older neighbours before the old analogue signal is switched off for good.’

Could you be a Champion?

Jo is appealing for volunteers particularly in the Ballyhale, Mooncoin, Glenmore, Iniostige, Gowran, Goresbridge, Castlecomer, Ballyragget and Johnstown areas of the county. She is asking sports, community, social and parish groups in these areas to make contact with her or the Fr. McGrath Centre to make sure that their older neighbours are not switched off later this year.

“Volunteers do not need to be technical experts, just caring neighbours who can answer a few simple questions to help their neighbours with the big switchover and full training, support and technical advice will be made available to any interested volunteers.

“This is a small thing that you can do in your community or parish for those that need that little extra bit of support and who are living alone. Don’t let them down. Look around and think who in your area might need this help,” she pointed out.

Interested groups or volunteers can contact Jo Conroy on 087 2236050 or the Fr. McGrath Family Resource Centre on (056) 7751988 (Ext 7) to register their interest or for more information for groups or individuals who might like to act as local champions.