It is really important that we all recognise the importance of supporting others to get online.  Monday saw a very successful conference organised by Go ON Worcestershire to promote good practice in helping people to get online.  The event was well attended by over 120 people with a great mixture of local community groups, digital champions, public sector partners and the local social housing providers. 

I challenged the conference attendees to each go out and each recruit 5 new digital champions following the event.  Technology is changing so fast - all the time - and there were many at the Conference who weren’t always sure themselves about the latest social media, or other new developments.  Digital champions recognise that there are different levels of knowledge and skills and it is essential that we help local communities to gain the confidence to get online.

The role of a digital champion is mainly held by volunteers.  But staff in customer roles are also a vital link in helping and encouraging people to get online.  Taking the time to show someone how to request a service online, or to help someone sign up for a service is a crucial role as giving people the time and support can result in amazing changes.  We heard lots of great stories at the Conference about people’s enjoyment in being able to Skype a family member, or do their shopping online.  All simple things but so great in helping people to feel less isolated. 

What we are agreed on is that a flexible approach to helping people online is key.   We all have different learning points and knowledge.  Some people need basic online skills – how to log on, how to use a mouse or swipe on a tablet – others are wanting to expand their horizons and take their learning to another level. What is essential is that people can learn at their own pace.  Also that people know that services are still available in person, or by phone especially for those who need complex support and advice.  There is shared recognition in Go ON that delivering services online is efficient but that the priority is to provide each customer with the access they need.

Go ON Worcestershire has been fantastic in sharing good practice and working jointly to make sure people know where to go to get online and many other areas such as how to job search online, how to use social media effectively, how to work with a group in a rural community.  These are just a few of the examples from yesterday’s event.  The funding Go ON has received from the County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner has been essential in giving the partnership the tools and resources to target the 49,000 residents in Worcestershire who are not currently online.  Anyone interested to know more about the partnership can contact kate.gallant@rooftopgroup.org or email goon@worcestershire.gov.uk

Kate-Gallant-intranet

Article by:

Community Investment Manager