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Championing the importance of digital skills

9 September 2015

Brian giving digital skills support to Audrey Edwards.

As we announce a £2 million initiative to create more than 1,400 digital champions across the UK, we hear from Brian Dove. Brian and his wife Linda are Digital Champions with housing association Affinity Sutton and are based in Burgess Hill. They run a walk in IT support service at the Spire Café every Thursday between 11am and 1pm.

It all started when Linda became treasurer of the Mid Sussex Older People’s Council and Brian began helping members with software and computer issues. Brian, 74, says: “This made me aware of the need to provide some sort of facility where we could offer advice and help. It was at this time that we found out about Affinity Sutton’s IT training and we set up the Spire Café Walk In.

“Each week we see anywhere from three to 10 people who need support with a range of queries from simple problems to more technical help. Between us and the other Digital Champions  we can usually help them. Often people want help with understanding what type of equipment they should buy and what is most suitable for their needs as well as how to use it.

“One lady aged 92 had taken on a voluntary project to print some greeting cards. This involved printing hundreds of identical copies and she achieved this by pressing the print button hundreds of times not realising you could change the print quantity setting.

“On a regular basis we help people understand how to use all aspects of the internet including shopping online, sending emails, taking and attaching photos, setting up contact lists, Skype/FaceTime, iPlayer and general computer tasks.

“We have found that those who are not computer literate tend to take advice from others who are not always knowledgeable. Often a grandparent will seek help from a grandchild, which is fine, but every so often the grandchild will not explain clearly what they have done. This especially applies to their passwords and accounts. We had one gentleman in his mid-seventies who was advised by a friend to restore his computer factory settings but had not done a backup so lost everything.

“More and more organisations expect everyone to have a computer and know how to use it.  Unfortunately this is not the case and it is causing quite a lot of stress and problems among the older generation.

“Being a Digital Champion is incredibly rewarding and hugely satisfying. It is good to know we can do our bit and share our knowledge and enthusiasm for the internet to help others, particularly older people, find their way through these technological times”.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. janmccarthyauthor permalink
    9 September 2015 4:48 pm

    Happy to be part of this. I was an Age UK Digital Champion from 2013-15 and also the winner of a National Digital Leader award.

    • Big Lottery Fund permalink*
      10 September 2015 12:27 pm

      Great to hear from you and congratulations on your award. Digital Champions like yourself really make a huge difference to communities.

  2. janmccarthyauthor permalink
    9 September 2015 4:49 pm

    Reblogged this on Jan McCarthy – Author and commented:
    Wonderful! Well done, BIG!

    • Big Lottery Fund permalink*
      10 September 2015 12:21 pm

      Thank you!

  3. Lynne Thompson permalink
    10 September 2015 9:08 am

    As a Digital Champion myself, I have encountered very similar situations to Brian. Most people feel pretty confident about what they are saying, when they helping out a friend or relative with technology. But all of us, no matter what age we are have different paces and pathways to absorbing essential information, that enables us to complete or remember to do a task. Also a person can be very knowledgeable about a subject put not explain it very well.

    The £2 million initiative, will provide more opportunities for people to gain basic Digital Champion training. That will enable them to pass on effectively, technology skills that are now part of everyday life.

    • Big Lottery Fund permalink*
      10 September 2015 12:26 pm

      Great to hear from another Digital Champion. We’re excited this funding will help many more people like you to support others to get confident online.

  4. 18 September 2015 8:25 am

    Thank you for the post about the importance of digital skills, it was very interesting and informative.


  1. Championing the importance of digital skills | Norwich Digital Inclusion
  2. Digital Champions Consortium supported by @BigLotteryFund promises wider collaboration on digital inclusion

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