Martine Ekango, 35, has been a Digital Champion for The Hyde Group for the past four months. She came across Hyde’s Digital Champion programme when she was using the computer facilities at Hyde’s local community centre in Brent to support her job searching. Now she helps 16 learners at the same centre every Tuesday with a range of tasks from handling a mouse and keyboard to sending emails and using Skype.

Martine said: “I’ve recently had to take some time off work due to health reasons so I was very keen to find a way to keep active and focused and to give something back to my local community. Becoming a Digital Champion was the perfect way to do this.  

I enrolled with Hyde and completed the Quick Start course on the Digital Champions Network for Housing. This was a great way to get started as it gave me a wealth of information and extra support – I call it a little shop of golden nuggets!

Many of the people I help every week have never used a computer and just doing something like a Google search can be difficult. My role is to guide them through it and help boost their confidence.

It is so rewarding to see the smiles on people’s faces and to see the way they change over time, becoming less afraid to try new things and being able to accomplish their own personal goals. One lady was so happy when I helped her to upload her CV and apply for a job online for the first time and it was a terrific feeling to know I’d made a difference.

There are lots of great reasons to be a Digital Champion. It’s helped to improve my own confidence and self-esteem and has given me lots of opportunities to network and meet new people. Being part of the Digital Champions Network has been helpful too, particularly with using the forums where it’s been really interesting to see what other Digital Champions do and what questions they get asked by their learners.

There are lots of people out there who need support with being online and I hope Hyde will be able to introduce more sessions like mine for residents in the future”.

Sophie McKechnie, Digital Inclusion Project Manager at The Hyde Group said: “Our Digital Champion programme is a key part of our ‘Switched On’ campaign and over the past year we have really seen the positive impact people like Martine have with helping to get our residents online. Being part of the Digital Champions Network for Housing means our Digital Champions receive that crucial support and training they need to be effective and we have a structured framework to manage, deliver and refine this vital peer-to-peer approach.”  

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