Around 600 Digital Champions are now being supported and trained by Digital Unite to help residents to get and stay online.

With research showing that those with low levels of digital literacy prefer to learn new online skills informally by watching and asking others, developing armies of local Digital Champions can provide an effective solution to getting more people online.

Digital Unite’s Digital Champion model for housing was first launched in March 2013 for Affinity Sutton to develop a team of people who could enthuse and support their residents nationally to get online. There are now 150 Digital Champions helping around 1,000 Affinity Sutton residents to get to grips with computers, tablets and the internet.

In September 2013 the Digital Champions Network for Housing was launched for other housing providers and national and regional organisations. With 18 members currently across the UK there are around 450 Digital Champions already enlisted to help hundreds of residents learn about digital technology with more Digital Champions joining every day.

Digital Unite’s supported approach for Digital Champions involves an online training platform with comprehensive and practical support to staff, volunteers and residents who are already digitally active and can help others to get online.

The platform offers seven structured and self-study e-learning courses on how to help and inspire residents to get and stay online. A friendly, moderated Digital Champion community forum offers daily support to share learnings and experiences and access to 44 downloadable resources and 400 online guides provides the essential teaching toolkit.

Ongoing motivation and support for the digital champions both offline and online makes a further difference and all of the Digital Champion activity is tracked to help evaluate success.

Elizabeth, a Digital Champion for Affinity Sutton said: “I was already helping some of the residents to use computers and the internet but it’s been great to become an official Digital Champion and improve my own digital and teaching skills. Helping others to learn and use the internet for their own benefit is enormously satisfying and gives me a real boost.”

Kathy Valdes, Business Development Manager at Digital Unite said: “To be online residents need and want regular, one-to-one personal support. For many housing providers and other organisations providing this at the scale required can be simply unaffordable. However if you can develop the skills of enthusiastic volunteers, and if you can guide them and encourage collaboration among them, then providing that hyper-local and ongoing help for residents starts to become a reality.

“That is where our Digital Champions Network has come into play and where it has been helping to make a real difference in delivering more meaningful digital inclusion.”


*BBC media literacy – Understanding Digital Capabilities - July 2012

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