Digital Champions help people in Highlands get online

A new, collaborative programme which will train hundreds of Digital Champions to help thousands of people across the UK get online has been officially launched.

At a time when the UK is moving to ‘digital by default’ and yet over 12 million people lack basic digital skills¹, One Digital is a unique collaboration between six diverse organisations to create a sustainable and far reaching digital inclusion solution. Age UK, the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations, Citizens Online and Digital Unite with its partners Affinity Sutton and AbilityNet have joined forces to develop the One Digital programme which will recruit, train and support 1,400 Digital Champions nationwide.

One Digital is funded by £2 million from the Big Lottery Fund and will help around 9,500 people develop basic digital skills.

Each One Digital Partner will deliver individual and bespoke projects but all of the Digital Champions within the One Digital programme will access one single training and support network that provides structured courses, extensive resources and dedicated mentor support.

As part of the One Digital Programme, Citizens Online is working with Digital Highland, a local partnership of The Highland Council, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, SCVO and many local organisations. The partnership will recruit, train and support “digital champions” to help people in the Highlands develop their digital skills. The Highland team will focus on supporting people living in rural communities, older people and people living in low income households.

Vicki Nairn, Head of Digital Transformation, The Highland Council said: We are aware that many people in the Highlands still need help using the Internet. This project will enable people living in rural communities to become familiar with the internet and access services online. This project will also build additional digital capacity by working together across key partnerships”.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Margaret Davidson added: “Central to our Council’s Programme, “Highland First” is to improve connectivity especially broadband and mobile coverage, across the Highlands. The Council is committed to realising the full potential of our communities and enabling them to take full advantage of that digital connectivity. This is fundamental to healthy, vibrant connected communities and the growth of business and tourism opportunities.”

As a new One Digital Infographic demonstrates, Digital Champions are an effective tool in today’s digital inclusion landscape where those who aren’t online are now becoming harder to engage and need personal long-term support. Indeed 77% of those offline cite lack of interest as their main barrier² and 26% of computer beginners do not use their new digital skills without ongoing help³.

Shona Munro, Highlands Digital Champion Manager said: “Being a Digital Champion is about helping other people to see how they can find information about bus timetables, register for school meals or order their shopping online. Our project will support volunteers and community organisations who want to help others benefit from being online.”

Digital Highland is currently looking for new volunteers to support their work in the area. We are looking for friendly and enthusiastic people to help local learners to learn about the Internet and how to get online. Digital Champions don’t need to be IT experts, just have the enthusiasm to support others to learn. Full training and support will be provided.

If you are interested in volunteering for Digital Highland please contact:

Shona Munro, Digital Champion Manager - Email: shona.munro@citizensonline.org.uk Tel: 07827 240452

12 Feb 2016
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