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How can you support people with digital skills without crossing safeguarding boundaries?

This is something that’s coming up a lot with our clients. Their staff start helping with digital skills and find themselves helping with lots of things they weren’t expecting.  It might be financial or personal details that people share, maybe if they want help with online banking or applying for benefits. 

Or emotional issues. If you’re helping someone with how to pay a bill, that might bring up all sorts of issues about why paying that bill is difficult. Sometimes just being with a friendly person who’s trying to help can bring up a range of other issues that need fixing…

There are practical risks for staff and volunteers when people share data that they shouldn’t – especially when things go wrong and “people want someone to blame”. And emotional ones too – in trying to deal with something you’re not trained to fix and can’t help with.

As digital extends into every area of our lives, and as the cost of living crisis continues, this is going to happen more and more.  There’s no easy solution to safeguarding staff, volunteers, customers and beneficiaries. But it's crucial to recognise the issue. Then make sure staff/ volunteers are properly trained about what they can and can’t help with; know to do it safely and make sure they everyone understands where the boundaries are.  

One thing that's come up a lot is when staff can't help, making sure they know how to signpost to someone who can. And as an employer, to recognise that it can be hard not to help someone  - so there’s emotional support available if they need it.

We've got lots of advice on the Digital Champions Network about keeping Champions and learners safe. If you're not a member, here's a DU webinar about safeguarding and remote learning - initially created in Covid times but still very relevant today. 

What do we do?

Find out how we can help you run successful digital inclusion programmes. 

What is Digital Inclusion

Why does it matter? And what can be done about it? We've pulled together some great resources.