Digital Unite has been enlisted by the Octavia Foundation community charity in London to recruit, manage and train ten Digital Champions to help residents get and stay online.

The Octavia Foundation was established in 2006 by social landlord Octavia Housing, and connects people affected by unemployment, ill health, social isolation or poverty with opportunities for positive personal change. Funded by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Innovation grant this digital inclusion project aims to support residents in the local area with using and accessing IT.  

Taking place last month (June) the programme included face-to-face training delivered by one of Digital Unite’s tutors and enrolment in Digital Unite’s Digital Champion e-learning course. This comprehensive self-study online course enables Digital Champions to support and inspire computer beginners in a structured and sustainable way.

Octavia’s Digital Champions come from a range of backgrounds and ages but all have a shared aim of wanting to share their computer knowledge and skills with those who were yet to be online. The four-day face-to-face training focused on how to keep things simple when teaching beginners and also included online safety, using the keyboard and mouse and searching the internet.  Special sessions covered handling accessibility issues, the variations between laptops, netbooks and tablets and how these can be adjusted to suit each particular learner. Numerous role play activities were held to bring the learning to life.

Hayley Tripp, Project Support Officer from Octavia Foundation said: “We identified the need for this project following research among our residents who are affected by the various welfare reforms. The findings showed a lack of awareness that Universal Credit would require residents to be online and highlighted that they are a long way from being able to use a computer competently to manage this new benefit system. We are delighted to have Digital Unite on board and to benefit from their extensive expertise in digital inclusion delivery and support.”

Kathy Valdes, Business Development Manager said: “The introduction of Universal Credit and its online payment system presents a number of challenges, particularly for housing providers but it also offers opportunities too. These include the opportunity to galvanise residents to realise the more profound and personal benefits about being online and the opportunity to embed a new digital culture across the whole organisation to improve business delivery and efficiency.  Taking the Digital Champion approach as Octavia are doing is a key tool in delivering meaningful digital inclusion and we are pleased to help them with achieving their aspirations for this project.”


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