As we begin a new year, we should focus on addressing the digital exclusion of older people – Bridging the Digital Gap. There are a considerable number of older adults who find themselves on the other side of the digital divide. Tackling digital exclusion among seniors is not just a matter of technology; it’s a step towards creating an inclusive society.


During the last 12 months we have seen progress in improving the digital exclusion of up to 200,000 older people in Wales. The Commissioner for Older People has published an important new Report   Access Denied: Older people’s experiences of digital exclusion in Wales – Older People’s Commissioner for Wales . At  Cymru Older Peoples Alliance (COPA) we have published our Policy Position Paper on Digital Inclusion Digital Inclusion Of Older People In Wales – Copa Charity  .

However, the barriers to digital inclusion of older people are still very much prevalent Digital exclusion creating new barriers for older people – Older People’s Commissioner for Wales    . Apps for parking cars, on-line only ticket purchases, closing banks and shops in favour of on-line access, are widespread. Also, an increasingly cashless society, online appointment booking etc. are all forms of ageism. Society is leaving behind older people who do not use or struggle with modern technology. This cannot be right.  In addressing age discrimination in Wales, we want a clear transparent policy from the government to tackle digital exclusion.

We need to understand that technicality and lack of money and digital skills are all a problem. They can lead to social isolation and reduce access to essential services. There is also a second category of older people who are “marginally included”. They may have limited use of digital devices but are not confident and struggle with IT and are open to hacks and scams.   It is vitally important that we older people – whatever our digital skills – can access the information and help we need. COPA wants Wales to be a nation that connects people by both digital and non-digital means. With increasing difficulties for public service budgets ahead, we must continue to promote the benefits of digital inclusion. It is an essential, not just a desirable, requirement and we should not “take the foot of the gas”.


Whilst the economic circumstances do need to be taken into account, there are a variety of initiatives that can be continued to tackle digital exclusion. These also address related policy imperatives such as employment, economic growth, social cohesion, democratic participation. They include:

  • Information and advice – ensuring that access is not just on-line, and older people can have “hard copies”, as well as face to face access to help when needed. Non-digital services should be available too. The ability to afford should be assessed before people are encouraged to accept IT.
  • Age Friendly Communities – build on the range of local projects, ensuring digital inclusion is a central feature to accessing services.   
  • Intergenerational Solidarity – collaborating with pupils and students who mentor older people in learning IT skills, social media.
  • Community Hubs help and advice available locally with support for those who are new online users or those wishing to learn about getting online. Local hubs and community facilities should be drop-in centres, internet cafes and virtual village halls.
  • Isolation and Loneliness – early identification of need, running Warm Hubs that also provide IT help and loan schemes or ‘try before you buy’ schemes with tablets ensuring that cost is not a prohibitive factor.
  • Training should assess ability and the willingness to spend time securing the safety of any systems. Any training should also include follow-up to ensure systems are being used appropriately and gain feedback and provide help on any issues.


These are of course just examples of what can be achieved. We want urgent action to build and keep the momentum going to create digital inclusion in our society. Whilst some progress is being made, stronger and inventive responses are needed so that older people in Wales can enjoy the benefits of our digital age. However, we must also have our needs and preferences met if we do not want or cannot engage digitally.

Cymru Older Peoples Alliance

April 2024

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