Collaboration, not competition – that was the overriding theme at the One Digital stakeholder event in London on Wednesday 25 May 2016.

Around 60 people from a wide range of organisations attended to hear the latest from One Digital, a national digital inclusion programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The programme is helping thousands of people with digital skills across the UK through the recruitment, training and support of hundreds of Digital Champions.

The event welcomed Dawn Austwick, Chief Executive at the Big Lottery Fund who spoke emphatically about how digital is a key enabler for people to make their own choices and the importance of ensuring no-one is left behind. Dawn praised the One Digital programme for its granular approach of working and engaging with local communities, citing it as the “poster child for collective impact”.

In just four months the One Digital collaboration has seen significant results. Over 350 Champions have joined the programme from over 130 different organisations with 60% having completed their online training so far. To date the Champions have already helped to engage and support around 2,500 learners right across the UK.

At the event two Digital Champions, Dan Cottam and Glenn Lloyd, spoke about how they support their local communities with digital skills. Listening to what people need and identifying the key areas they want to learn ahead of each session are essential elements for supporting people on their digital journey. As Glenn said “being friendly, relaxed and encouraging” are vital ingredients for teaching success. For both it was clear that being a Digital Champion is hugely rewarding on a personal level. In Dan’s words “it’s incredible to see the way people progress as they develop their digital confidence”.

Each of the One Digital partners spoke passionately about their role in the programme, what they are bringing to it – and getting out of it:

  • As a housing provider Affinity Sutton regard helping their resident communities online as one of their social responsibilities. With the level of functional digital skills amongst young people lower than expected, One Digital is helping to improve the digital knowledge and subsequent employment opportunities amongst their 18-24 year olds.
  • AbilityNet’s volunteers are already providing vital at-home technical assistance to older people and those with accessibility needs. One Digital is enabling the charity to enhance their volunteer training and support programme so that up to 1,000 disabled people can receive free digital skills assistance in their own homes.
  • Age UK is using One Digital to test different Digital Champion models in two regions, Oxfordshire and Leicestershire & Rutland. The projects are highlighting new ways to engage older people with digital technology and more opportunities to share knowledge, expertise and peer support.
  • Citizens Online is testing their Digital Resilience model in four key regions working with local partnerships to target the twin issues of service transformation and digital inclusion. One Digital is enabling them to provide more targeted support to help organisations equip their staff with the right digital skills.
  • Seven bespoke Digital Champion training courses are being developed by Digital Unite as part of their infrastructure support for One Digital. The organisation has customised its e-learning Digital Champions Network to provide a structured and consistent training and data tracking platform for all of the partners. Digital Unite also provides a team of Mentors to the programme who support the Champions across the different projects.
  • In Scotland SCVO is using One Digital to support third sector organisations up and down the country where 50% don’t have digital skills capability. Their cascade model of support is helping both volunteers, staff and organisations to transform their approach and become more digital efficient and effective.

Emma Weston, One Digital Programme Director said: “One Digital is a unique collaboration. It’s more than just a group of organisations working under one umbrella. It is a partnership connected by a golden thread – the use of Digital Champions and championing models to deliver sustainable digital skills – but which allows each partner to use that golden thread as best suits them. The partnership is glued together by common evaluation, governance and programme management structures which we have all developed and agreed in concert.

“One Digital is flourishing because of the goodwill, energy and dedication to the collaboration that each partner brings. Our sum really is greater than any of our parts. Our third party evaluation (using data to date) shows partners agree that “what One Digital is trying to do would be difficult for any single organisation to achieve on its own”. The programme has already realised significant achievements in its early days and is clearly evidencing the effectiveness of Digital Champion model. We look forward to furthering the aims of One Digital in the months to come.”

Delegate feedback from the event demonstrated widespread interest in how the collaboration works and how the partners’ diverse Digital Champion projects are delivering on the ground. There was also significant demand for a similar One Digital event later in the year.

For more information visit the One Digital website or follow #OneDigital on Twitter.


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