Students use their ‘cancelled summer’ to tackle isolation and loneliness in Glasgow

By Ian Marland at

A group of business students are spending their summer tackling loneliness and isolation.

The young people are connecting older generations to the online world in a project they helped set up.

DigiGallus Connect is the idea of students at the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School.

Poster with student faces

DigiGallus Connect is connecting older generations to the online world.

Many of the students have had summer jobs, internships and work placements cancelled due to Covid-19.

Instead they are running a project which is providing tablets for older people and teaching them how to use them.

The students will show mentees how to send emails, make online video calls, and use the internet.

They will also show how to ensure sites are secure when buying online.

The people being helped live in Glasgow and are being reached through community noticeboards, organisations and churches.

‘Ingenuity’

The project will help counter the effects of isolation and loneliness many over the age of 50 experience, which has been exacerbated as a result of Covid-19.

Isla Melee is a final year student studying Spanish and Business and Management.

She said: “I hope DigiGallus Connect will demonstrate that by sharing skills and increasing communication we can bridge the gap between generations.”

Professor Kathleen Riach, responsible and sustainable management lead at the Business School, has been supporting the students.

She said: “The ingenuity, entrepreneurial spirit and social conscience that the students have shown here is phenomenal.

University of Glasgow

The students will show mentees how to send emails, make online video calls, and use the internet.

“Their summer plans have changed with many furloughed from jobs or having their internships and work experience cancelled, and they’ve turned it into a positive learning experience that significantly benefits both them and their local community at the same time.”

Professor Des McNulty, Assistant Vice Principal, Economic Development and Civic Engagement said: “Covid-19 has highlighted lack of access to information via the internet – digital exclusion – as a major source of disadvantage, affecting vulnerable and older people in particular.

‘Digital literacy’

“As part of the University’s commitment to help close the digital divide in the city of Glasgow, the student run Digigallus Connect project will distribute internet-connected devices to elderly residents, with management students providing digital literacy and free technology training to those that most need it – an example of one generation supporting another.”

To fund the project the students need to raise £4,000.

The Business School has committed to matching all donations pound for pound to help them reach their target.

Donations can be made at https://glasgow.hubbub.net/p/digigallus/.