****Press release from Greater Shantallow Area Partnership****

Pandemic prompts ‘Let’s Get All Generations Connected’ campaign

Greater Shantallow Area Partnership (GSAP) in tandem with many of  the city’s churches have embarked on a campaign aimed at digitally connecting all of our older people across the city, in a bid to offset the harmful effects of the isolation caused by Coronavirus.

Apart from the horrendous human cost of the pandemic, one of the most insidious effects of Covid-19 has been the dreadful loneliness that it has caused.

Older people, perhaps more than any other section of our society, have felt the impact of this. Enforced disconnection from family and friends is of course known to severely impede upon mental health.

But, with the use of modern technology, the loneliness caused by a prolonged lack of human contact can be greatly alleviated. While actual human interaction is of course heavily restricted at the moment, it does not mean that we cannot connect virtually.

It is for this reason, that GSAP are launching the   “Let’s Get All Generations Connected Campaign”, in partnership with many local churches and are seeking  used or new iPads or monetary donations to be left with  local churches  in a bid to help reconnect our older people.

Pat Carlin, the Families Connect Coordinator at the organisation said: “This year, Greater Shantallow Area Partnership is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary. In that time, we have worked tirelessly, like so many in our City, to provide a voice to many people, who have often found themselves marginalised.

Our older citizens are also badly in need of a way to link with the outside world. Many of our older people are devoted and highly valued members of our city’s faith communities.

We have turned to our church leaders, in spearheading the ‘Let’s Get All Generations Connected’ campaign, to appeal to their parishioners to donate IT equipment.

If the donation of iPads is not possible, then we would ask people to make a contribution to their church, so that materials, such as dongles, can be provided, which will allow internet connections to be made if none is available. These donations will also be used to pay for IT experts to overhaul iPads in the interests of data protection.”

Church leaders in the city have already responded positively to the “Let us Get All Generations Connected Campaign” and many have pledged to encourage their parishioners to donate to this very worthy appeal.

Pat Carlin continued: “The plan is that once the churches have gathered the  iPads, GSAP will be on hand to help allocate the materials to those who need them.

We will contact our church and community partners across the city to ask for the names of older residents, who they believe would benefit most from the campaign.

At the point of delivery, we will then allocate church and community volunteers to help set up the equipment. We will also help reassure any recipient that the helpers will fully abide by government guidance on social distancing and will use PPE on their visits, to avoid any undue anxiety or stress about that issue.

These volunteers will also be able to arrange for follow-up visits, through GSAP, to make sure that any  ongoing assistance will  be available on the use of the iPads,  so that the links to family and friends and their spiritual community continues.”