BT deploys Geoff Hurst to teach the elderly tech skills


A new study says 41% of over 70s don’t feel fully confident using their mobile for anything other than calls – so BT has recruited World Cup winner Geoff Hurst to help teach them.

As well as the stat that 41% of over 70s don’t feel fully confident using their mobile beyond phone calls, the study carried out by BT also says 71% of older think people say sharing videos and pictures with family helps tackle isolation, but only 17% do it regularly.

Meanwhile 80% of over-65s want to be more proficient in the digital world, and 60% want to learn a new skill. We’re also told 73% of older people said using their phone to talk to GPs has improved their independence.

All these stats are there to paint a picture that while older people see the benefits of things like video calling call and social media, many aren’t sure how to get involved. So BT has put out a video with footballing legend Geoff Hurst to encourage older people to learn new digital skills.

“What BT are doing to get older people to connect with technology is fantastic,” said Geoff Hurst. “At my age, I meet a lot of people who are on their own and suffer with loneliness. I am fortunate that I’m in regular contact with my immediate family including a WhatsApp group called ‘Family Bants’. But there are people such as Bill who have very little family around them or at all so it’s a great thing to connect them – through technology – so they can speak to their mates or people they have lost contact with years ago.”

Bill, from Ashington, Northumberland, who features in the video said: “Meeting Sir Geoff was a dream come true – I’m a huge football fan and being able to commentate ‘that’ moment was incredible. Even more so because we were able to share it with my friends too. I don’t get many visitors at the home anyway and when Covid hit, the number dropped to almost none. I did feel really lonely and one of the few people I spoke to regularly was Ricky – we bonded over our love of football – and he’s really given me the confidence to try out new technology that makes things easier for me. I’m not very good on electronics so I’m very grateful to Ricky for teaching me, every bit of advice I get is really appreciated.”

The video is in service of publicising BT’s Care Home Companions scheme, which was set up in 2020 and involves BT customer service advisors chatting chat with older people who might not have anyone else to talk to. Meanwhile its digital skills programme purports to teach digital skills, and it claims to upskilled 14.7 million people so far.

Yes it’s a fairly fluffy bit of PR, and yes the firm is probably looking for any coverage other than its ongoing dispute with the CWU and resultant strike action, but if some actual good is done in the process of a corporation looking to get some positive press, and helping isolated older people have more connections via tech is certainly that, then that’s a fair enough trade.


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