The core of Digital Champion projects? Digital Champions. Here are some stories from the wonderful and committed people, staff and volunteers who train up and help others with digital skills. 

 

Featured Story

Surinder's story: GP to DC...

Surinder's digital skills session

"As a general practitioner I was so ready to retire from seeing patients that I’ve not really looked back. But the desire to help, to aid and to support was something I wanted to continue – though I didn’t expect it to be as a Digital Champion (DC).  Previously in the practice, it was me who always needed to catch up around things digital. Well, rather ironically here I am as a DC and so far, it’s been really fascinating, sometimes challenging and always fun...

Surinder volunteers at a LiveSmart residential unit for older people in London. He started with a couple of people who wanted help with their phones, and is now running a regular drop-in sessions for a group. He shared a few of the things he's learnt along the way...

Find the right hook

Taking a page out of the training I completed, I started each weekly session with a brief chat about hobbies and interests - knowing that ‘a hook’ can often be the secret to unlocking real engagement by the learners.  Indeed this proved to be the case – especially when recently, one of the newer residents admitted that cinema is a hobby. Thus, using the internet to find information about cinema revealed so much that it required more time to learn how to focus on more a narrower set of topics.

Take Small Steps

We got around to talking about online shopping and banking.  While some had delved into banking – as a group they were reluctant, anxious and dare I say it not too confident about their skills.

It seems to me that confidence comes from practice and practising skills in more neutral areas such as general browsing, interacting with websites and with social media will pay dividends later. I believe in the old adage Rome wasn’t built in a day

This is what I call fun work – aiding, supporting, teaching. As a bonus – it is really appreciated by the residents.

Surinder Singh
Digital Champion

Ann's Story - Empowering Others

"I get most enjoyment from supporting Learners and tracking their development. I provide them with the tools, resources, guidance, and encouragement they need to develop their digital skills and confidence.

I know my role helps empower individuals to build their own online relationships, to make a positive impact on their peers, children, their education, and communities. This gives me great satisfaction and achievement.

I’m always honest about not knowing absolutely everything, so ‘championing’ has been a great opportunity for me to further expand my own IT skills, my professional connections and experience.

Here's an example:  One day I typed simple homework tasks for an Arabian lady … in Arabic!

She thought I was a genius, “not only can she do digital, she can do Arabic as well”!! … until I told the truth that I used Google Translator. It was a little disconcerting for me as I couldn’t read the translation, and I failed miserably when I tried to verbally pronounce as fluent as Google.

I consider my Digital Champion position a privilege."

Ann has been a digital Champion for 12 years. She volunteers at Sutton Women’s Centre (SWC) south London where she is recognised for her IT skills and knowledge.

julie at work

Julie's story: nervous learner to Digital Champion

Julie used to be nervous of digital technology but with a bit of help and hard work became a Champion herself. She volunteers at Woolston, one of Southampton Libraries where she helps people like Roy...

"Roy is lovely older man who has just turned 90. His daughter bought him his new laptop and he brought it in. I was the one who was blessed to work with him. I asked him what he wanted to do... I was amazed by how quickly he picked it up and was able to place what he had learnt.

Roy likes to cook and asked me to show him where he could find the BBC food website which we saved to favourites so he can find it again. He loved how easy it was to find Jamie Oliver Recipes when he knows how to do it.  I am looking forward to working with Roy each week."

 

Chris's story: unbeaten by the basics!

Chris is a Digital Champion at Southampton Libraries and volunteers at a regular digital drop-in session at Portswood Library.

“I have been interested to see how many people I have been able to help with basic things like finding the on/off switch, what to do next and use of the mouse. One lady was so frustrated that she was asking me where the nearest river was, so she could throw her iPad into it!” 

chris at work

Julian's story: making video contact

Julian Rudd attended a computer class in 2000, ended up helping out and has been a Digital Champion ever since! He particularly likes helping people get the digital skills to connect with others... 

This to me is what it’s all about, helping this gentleman make contact with his family in a better way. It was very gratifying and really sums up why I do the Digital Champions. I really love that little surprised look on their faces when they realise they can do something or have made contact with someone they have not contacted in years.  It makes me feel that I have made a difference to someone's experience and it gives me a great buzz.

Julian Rudd
Digital Champion

A person came to the digital champion group not knowing a lot about his laptop. After a couple of weeks he said that his daughter in Canada wanted to talk to him on video calls. 

We worked together on his laptop, making notes as we went. I could see that he was getting very excited at the prospect of seeing his daughter and her family in Canada on the video calls. 

We eventually got it all set up and he wanted to make contact straight away he couldn't wait till he got home! We talked about the time differences and he knew that it was early evening in Canada. We then went through the process again making sure his notes were all good and he just hit the video sign in the top of the chat box.

It turned out his daughter was in and she was really surprised and of course very happy they could see each other! He explained I had been helping him an she thanked me and I turned the laptop back to her dad, this was getting very emotional for them both and a few tears were shed and I moved away so they could enjoy the call.

old couple holding hands

Dave's story: finding memories

Dave Lockyer MBE is a Digital Champion via Clarion Futures. "I have been assisting at a block of retirement housing. The chap had two old unused laptops which he could no longer use but, on which there were photos stored which had sentimental value. With his permission I harvested the hard drives from these old laptops and by using a docking station, I was able to access all his photos.

As he was going through these: some of considerable age, he became very tearful: many of the photos were of his late wife.  I gave him advice regarding the purchase of a docking station of his own, so that he will have ready access to the photos in the future."

Ade's Story: Connecting More

Ade works for Virgin Media 02 Business and started volunteering as part of their Connect More programme

"This is myself and a client who is on DLA, we went through the process of setting him up for broadband and we had a chat about life in general, his passion and his outlook for the future."

 

ade and digital learner
JG's story: helping his dad

JG has done the Inspire course, which encourages people to make a pledge to help someone they know with digital skills. 

My dad is an auditor and during Covid he had to do much of his work online, including setting up spreadsheets and doing auto-calculations. He is not very computer savvy and has not be exposed to computer technology in the same way I have, so he needed ehlp. I passe on what I’ve have learnt. He can do his work better now and more easily now, and his Excel skills will help with some qualifications he is doing.

 It is very rewarding to see the difference my help has made.

JG
Inspire Champion

Dilip's Story - creative writing

I started volunteering as a Digital Champion in my local library six months ago. It has been a very interesting and rewarding experience...

I have been helping someone use Microsoft Word to create documents, starting out out with very limited experience of using a keyboard or a mouse. Over the last few months she has been typing in her own poems into word documents and saving these onto a memory stick. She now comes weekly and starts typing in her poems, saves them and prints them.

The excitement on her face when she prints each poem is amazing and her enthusiasm and growing confidence is rewarding to see. Her plan is to publish a calendar and then write stories and eventually publish a book.

It is wonderful and inspiring to see her confidence improve on a weekly basis. It  makes my role as a digital champion extremely worthwhile.

Dilip Chudgar
Digital Champion
Tell us your Digital Champion experiences

We want to know what you've been up to! 

Interested in volunteering?

We're helping housing group Clarion Futures find new Champions.