KeyRing is a charity and adult social care provider that supports a range of people to build and maintain their independence. Their passion is that good lives involve choice, control and perhaps most importantly connection. This is one of the key drivers behind their digital strategy.

They have 10 Digital Champions on the Network and are in their second year of membership.  We talked to them about how Digital Champion training helps their staff support others. 

Why Digital Champions?

four ladies looking at an iPhone

Technology is increasingly important for living in the modern world and KeyRing’s strategic plan includes the ambition of “using technology for the benefit of everyone”. This covers helping the people they support (known as "Members") to access more online services and encouraging frontline workers to use technology to evolve support.

Through their Creating Connections Project, they have 10-20 Digital Champions across the country supporting Members to access digital and use the internet safely and effectively. They do this via 1-2-1 sessions at home and via their Hubs, which are centres where people can get together in the real world, be supported and help each other.  This is helping people do whatever they need to do with technology – from booking medical appointments to using Alexa.

Data, devices and skills

Throughout the project, KeyRing have received gifts and funding that enable them to provide hundreds of pieces of kit ranging from video doorbells to tablets, and hundreds of SIM cards. They even repurposed their old work mobiles to help people start their digital journey.

But they recognise that there’s no point in having the kit if you don’t have the confidence to use it. When any piece of kit is given out, a support worker goes through a Foundation Skills checklist to ensure that the Member understands how to use their device and stay safe online. Then the Champion completes a case-study which helps for proof of impact and securing future funding.

The challenge: finding time to train

KeyRing support workers are busy and usually out and about in their communities. Helping Members with digital skills is just one of lots of things they do, and finding time for training can be hard.

Digital Network Coordinator, Susan Jones, encourages the team to make the most of the Network and keeps them connected via WhatsApp and with regular newsletters and team meetings. 

For KeyRing’s Champions, the most valuable thing about the Network is that it’s bite-sized learning – they don’t have to spend hours studying, they can just come in and find specific information on what they need. And it has printable, down-loadable resources that can be easily handed over.  “It’s just 10 minutes, have a go!” Susan says.

The best thing about the programme?

Susan says "some Members like to learn how to use social media, others love to do internet shopping, and many like to use the internet for hobbies and interests like transport. I like to encourage Members to use the internet and apps to make their lives easier too -  internet banking, reporting repairs to their landlord etc, contacting utility companies via WhatsApp too.

It's so rewarding to see our Members progress with their digital skills. Many find it daunting to start with, but we support them, and show them how to navigate the internet so that they can use it with ease."

a drop in session at a digital hub
nic and susan

The effects for beneficiaries

KeyRing Member, Nick was reluctant to join the digital world he’d heard horror stories of scams and took some persuading that there were ways to protect himself, things we could do and also options on devices themselves to reduce risk.

Now, after many months of work, Nick says “I think it’s really important... we seem to need to have access to the internet more and more these days.” He even goes as far as to say that his mobile phone helps him have the confidence to explore new places saying “my mobile phone means that I feel safe doing that… I know that I can easily contact someone if I need to.”

It’s wonderful to see the people we support become more digitally confident, and to see the positive impact that joining the digital world has on their lives.

Susan Jones
Digital Network Coordinator, Newcastle/Gateshead
keyring logo

Find out more about KeyRing and how they support adults with learning difficulties get what they want out of life.