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Digital Champion stories

The Network’s Digital Champions are doing amazing work up and down the country to help change people’s lives by supporting them with using the internet.

Here are just a few of their stories:

“The advice I can give to anyone who would like to be a Digital Champion is to go for it”

Noella is a Digital Champion for the Clarion Housing Group. She has been helping other parents in Croydon with improving their digital skills at her daughter’s school. The school has allowed her to use their IT suite and she meets her learners there before the start of the school day. Noella is keen to find work in computing and is hoping to start helping out with the IT lessons at the school.

Noella said: “Before I started I felt that I couldn’t pass on what I know to anyone as I didn’t have any training on how to teach. The online courses showed me how to prepare myself beforehand so that I could give a good training session and now I feel much more confident about giving people they help they need.”

“The advice I can give to anyone who would like to become a Digital Champion is to go for it. It’s not just about helping others but also helps you too; by growing your confidence, improving your communication skills and developing your own digital knowledge too!”

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting new people”

John Peberdy became a Nottinghamshire Digital Champion in August last year. Retired John had several years’ experience with using computers and was keen to put his knowledge to good use in his local community. Since joining the Network John has been working with learners at a local retirement complex in Nottingham using 'hand me down' tablets and iPads.

John said: “Most of my learners are aged over 75 and complete computer beginners. It's been great to help people with different issues. I showed one lady how to send emails and how to use skype to communicate with family abroad. Another lady had had emails sent to her by a relative with photos attached but had no idea how to access and view the photos. I’ve also really enjoyed meeting new people and people that I wouldn't otherwise have met as many of my peers are academics.

“It's not difficult being a Digital Champion. In fact all the necessary tools are available on the Digital Champions Network. Even though you may think that people are going to ask you complex questions, the fact is that the majority of my work has been showing people how to do simple basic tasks. So give it a go. It really is so rewarding and interesting.”

“You don’t need to be an expert. There is always something you can offer.”

Jo Stone worked in the Communications team of a housing association. She had been interested in volunteering for a while but wanted something where she could use her technical skills.

Since joining her organisation’s volunteering programme Jo regularly helped one lady, Joanne, who wanted to learn about Excel to improve her employment opportunities. The two also explored job sites, LinkedIn and local college courses. Jo was also keen that Joanne could continue learning in other ways and sent her links to free training, YouTube videos and blogs.

Jo said: “I saw the project advertised in an internal news story and knew it was for me. I have trained lots of people on systems at work but it felt really good knowing that I could make a real difference by helping a resident upgrade their skills.”

“I would encourage other people to think about volunteering. You don’t need to be an expert. There is always something you can offer – sometimes people just need the encouragement from someone else to get them started.”

“I am slowly realising just what I have done and what effect I have had and still having”

Simon Cook is a Digital Champion with Centra Group, an organisation that enables vulnerable people to live independently in their own home. When he first became a volunteer in 2012 Simon didn’t realise there weren’t any computers, internet or money available for him to run any computer clubs. Undeterred and driven by a belief that the internet could make a life-changing impact on the lives of the elderly people Simon spent two years finding innovative ways to provide sustainable and affordable computing infrastructure in local schemes.

At that same time he continued to develop and run successful computer clubs at four schemes in Waltham Forest. His achievements were recently acknowledged as he was named Tech Volunteer of the Year at the 2017 national Tech4Good Awards.

Simon said: “It's still sinking in really, I really didn't expect to win the Award, but I am slowly realising just what I have done and what effect I have had and still having. I am personally chuffed to win, and I have now proven to myself that, with the knowledge and tools at my disposal, I can achieve.”