A group of older ladies, fondly referred to as the ‘Blethers’, have met up in person for the first time today since forming a weekly Zoom call back in 2020 to combat isolation due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The group, established in 2020, was set up by Glasgow’s Golden Generation (GGG), a charity that works to alleviate poverty, isolation, and loneliness amongst the older generation. The group have met up every Friday via Zoom and are, for the first time, meeting each other in the flesh at the charity’s Fred Paton Day Centre in the West End of the city.
Helena Sommerville, 79-years-old from Carntyne, joined the ‘Blethers’ back in 2020. She said: “The Friday blether has been an absolute lifeline for me, particularly during Covid when I couldn’t meet up with anyone or go to my usual clubs. It was great to have human interaction at that time, and even though it online it was something I looked forward to each week, and I still do.”
Eight of the ‘Friday Blether’ regulars met up today and were treated to an afternoon tea. They met in GGG’s newly renovated ‘Sky Up Hub’ – a space dedicated to helping older adults get online by way of providing tech, connectivity and support from staff and volunteers.
Helena continued: “I was put in touch with the charity through my local church, and I was lucky enough to receive an iPad and some data. I was given a doorstep visit to show me how to use it and join the weekly Zoom call before I was introduced to the other ladies.
“We chat about everything and anything. We help each other with our problems, we get on well and most importantly we have a laugh! I’ve made such great friends in these ladies, and I am delighted to have now met up with them all in person. We’re always looking for new members and new friends!”
The meet-up coincides with the launch of a new digital hub – in partnership with Sky – a place where older adults can get support with all things digital. This includes ‘digital cafes’ and drop-in sessions, and topics covered will be things such as ‘what is the internet?’, the basics of your device, and streaming content online. GGG staff and Sky volunteers will be at hand to offer support to older adults.
Nicola Oritis, Head of Communities, Sky, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have been able to host the Blethers meet-up in the new Sky Up Digital Hub, the first of its kind in Scotland. We are so happy to have partnered with Glasgow’s Golden Generation – their digital inclusion work speaks for itself. We are looking forward to enhancing what they do, with support from Sky volunteers, a tech donation and Sky Up free wi-fi through Sky Connect.
“The older generation are one of the most at risk groups of being digitally excluded and we want to make sure they are given access to the right skills, technology, and connectivity. The Sky Up programme will see £10m invested around the UK & Europe to level up communities and ensure no-one is left behind in a digital world.”
The Sky Up Hub is now open to support older adults in Glasgow with their tech needs. Visit www.glasgowgg.org.uk to find out more about the support offered.