Pensioners are soon getting to grips with smart phones and laptops after London Freemasons gave £50,000 to Age UK Barnet.

The grant means the Barnet charity can set up more ‘digital inclusion’ sessions such as home support for the housebound and those struggling who can’t afford Wi-Fi to get onto the internet.

Digital support classes are also planned in sheltered housing, libraries and leisure and community centres, with at least half those taking part aged 75 and older.

Trained volunteers are showing how to use smart devices to stay in touch with friends and family as well as do everyday tasks like online shopping, booking a GP appointment and paying bills.

Two-out-of-five people over 75 and one-in-four over 65s are not using their computers to carry out everyday tasks or stay in touch with others, Age UK believes.

“This is worrying when you consider that more and more services are going online,” an Age UK spokesman said. “These include everything from applying for a Freedom Pass to paying for parking, online shopping or getting support services.

“It potentially leaves many feeling lonely, isolated and cut off from services they need.”

The sessions are aimed at tackling the isolation by connecting people to the online world to make everyday life easier.

Age UK Barnet’s chief executive Helen Newman points out: “These days, more and more services are online and should be available to everyone — whatever their age. The Freemasons’ money allows us to help a-thousand older people to use the internet with iPhones, tablets or laptops.”

There are 53,000 pensioners in Barnet, with an expected 66 per cent increase by 2030 of people aged over 85, many of whom who are likely to be alone and isolated without friends or family close by.

The pace of technological change can be bewildering and intimidating, the London Freemasons believe. Yet many services and so much entertainment is “available at the press of a button”. So the cash is to help those living alone to keep in touch with family and friends through the digital world with the idea that “it’s never too late to get online”.