Roadshow aims to ease elderly into digital age

A CHARITY has come to the aid of elderly people in Tring ahead of the digital switch-over later this month.

There are fears that elderly viewers who rely on television for comfort and information could be without their favourite programmes for days when analogue television is turned off in the town on March 30.

Pat Gray, former secretary of Tring Pensioners Association, which folded last year, is concerned for the elderly in Tring, which uses the Sandy Heath transmitter.

She said: “They are having a friend taken away.

“For some people, they will have to spend a few days where there is not a programme for them.

“That is their only outside contact and they rely on the TV. It can be extremely important for them. A lot of people do not realise how important the TV can be to somebody elderly who cannot get out much and who is on their own.”

She added: “The worst thing for a lot of elderly people is they don’t understand it.

“It doesn’t mean anything to them. That is where the biggest problem is.”

DigitalUK, an organisation formed by broadcasters to assist people in the switch-over, is running a help scheme.

It covers people aged over 75, people who qualify for Disability Living Allowance, Constant Attendance Allowance or mobility supplement.

Care home residents of more than six months and people registered blind or partially blind are also entitled to free help.

But Mrs Gray is worried about people not covered by the scheme.

She said: “How are these people going to cope? They really will not know what to do and will lose some of their favourite programmes.”

DigitalUK is running a series of road shows, but the closest ones to Tring are in Milton Keynes, Hitchin and Luton.

Instead, Age Concern Dacorum will work in partnership with the organisation to run a roadshow from 1.30pm to 3.30pm at Victoria Hall in Tring on Thursday, March 24.

Charity spokesman Atifa Khan said: “We are doing the workshop because we were concerned about the issue.

“We are doing it in partnership with the digital switch over. We approached them because we saw the need in the area for more information.”

DigitalUK spokesman Chris Cain said: “Last September, DigitalUK launched a major information campaign to let viewers know when the switch-over is coming to their area and what they need to do to get ready.

“Our campaign includes TV, press and radio advertising, detailed leaflets sent to every home, on-screen captions broadcast directly to those homes affected and roadshows in some areas.

“It is not possible to hold a road show in every area.

“We work closely with local charities to provide extra assistance for viewers and a grant was given to Age Concern Dacorum to run three events in Tring.”

He added: “Evidence from switch-overs across the UK so far shows that most people find the process straightforward.

“Nine in 10 viewers aged 65 to 74 have already converted their main set to digital.”

Viewers with questions can call the DigitalUK advice line on 08456 505050, or visit www.digitaluk.co.uk