Active Retirement Ireland honours Clare ‘digital ambassador’

Active Retirement Ireland honours Clare ‘digital ambassador’


L-R: Active Retirement Ireland CEO Maureen Kavanagh, Active Retirement Ireland National President Anne Drury, digital ambassador Eugene Philips, from Quin, and Head of Vodafone Ireland Foundation Liz Roche at a graduation ceremony in the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin – Photo: Maxwell Photography

The first Active Retirement Ireland digital ambassador from Clare has graduated at a special event in the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland in Dublin.

Volunteer Eugene Philips from Quin will be leading free digital skills classes for older people in their communities as part of the Vodafone Ireland Foundation Hi Digital programme, in partnership with Active Retirement Ireland and ALONE. Over the past three months, he has undergone technology training, Hi Digital train-the-trainer training and Hi Digital platform training.

The Hi Digital programme has been developed to empower older people in Ireland to build basic and essential digital skills, and help them to stay connected in their communities. Active Retirement Ireland in-person classes will follow the Vodafone Ireland Foundation Hi Digital online learning platform and cover essential topics including using the internet, using smartphones, sending emails, keeping in touch through social media or video calling, accessing online banking and government services, and shopping and making electronic payments online. Tuition is also provided in online communication and recreational services including how to use WhatsApp, watch television or listen to the radio online, plan driving routes and other travel, and book events, outings and holidays online.

Commenting on the graduation of the digital ambassadors, Maureen Kavanagh, CEO of Active Retirement Ireland, said: “Digital exclusion of older people is a real and growing problem in Ireland, and one that is leading to increased feelings of isolation and disconnectedness. Through this new stage of the Hi Digital programme, our digital ambassador-led, in-person classes will further support older people’s participation online. This will help ensure they have the appropriate access and skills to engage with digital services, along with expanding the possibilities on offer to them from the digital shift. We are so proud of our digital ambassadors who have given up so much of their time for training and who now want to share their skills with others in their communities.”

Active Retirement Ireland digital ambassador Eugene Philips, Quin, at a graduation ceremony in the Royal College of Physicians, Dublin – Photo: Maxwell Photography

Newly conferred digital ambassador Eugene Philips, 75, said: “I think for a lot of older people with low or no digital literacy, they perhaps feel as though getting online is too big a task or they’re too far behind. You don’t have to be a tech whizz — technology these days is designed to be easy for people to use and the Hi Digital courses are really accessible and designed for beginners. I am looking forward to guiding and supporting people so that they can see they really can do it.”

Older people wishing to learn or refresh their digital skills can start today with the free, self-guided Hi Digital online courses, in both English and Irish, at The online courses can be completed at home, either independently or with help from friends, family or other people in their community.