When we ran a Citizens’ Advice Centre for Małopolska residents, 50% of those we helped were over 55. There is quite a low level of seniors’ active citizenship (involvement in community or political organizations), which is only 6.9% for the 65-74 age group, and 3% for 75 and above (“Activity of the Elderly”, Chancellery of the Senate, 2019). An increasing number of government authorities are setting up websites on which most essential matters can be dealt with. Most grant schemes as well only allow applications submitted electronically. Many seniors who are unable to fill in applications electronically decide against active citizenship for fear of not managing not due to lack of knowledge, but for technical reasons.
To mitigate the danger of social exclusion of the seniors in the Krakowski county, we took measures to improve their knowledge and skills regarding civil and legal matters. We took awareness-raising measures: lectures on laws particularly relevant to the seniors and on civil rights (16 hours), digital workshops, including dealing with government offices remotely (54 hours), and workshops on civil matters on particular forms of active citizenship (18 hours), closing with writing three working applications to the Civil Budget. At the same time, we ran a citizen and legal advice centre – in regular shifts, the advisors helped 198 people, working with them to resolve problems.
284 senior citizens were given short-term assistance with individual legal problems and general information on legal and civil issues. The measures also gave the seniors digital competences and skills to help them deal with government offices online, remotely. The participants put their new skills to practical use even when the scheme was still ongoing.