23rd September, 2019 by Katharinet

Casper Kennerdale with a learnerCaspar Kennerdale (pictured on the left with learner, Jay Madawala) joined Digital Unite’s Digital Champions Network for free as part of the Lottery funded One Digital programme. An early adopter of the Internet, he worked for several large and small companies working in various IT areas, and then became very ill. Caspar was bed bound for a year and consequently became socially isolated.

His recovery was slow - it took 18 months - and during that time Caspar realised that he had to get out of the house and interact with people again. So he started volunteering with 'The Library of Things' and then an opportunity at his local library appeared, helping to manage a digital skills class. This definitely appealed and it led on to him setting up his own social enterprise - ClearCommunityWeb based in London SE19. Here, Caspar talks about his Digital Champion experience.

How did you hear about being a Digital Champion?

I came across Digital Unite whilst researching digital inclusion ahead of setting up my social enterprise.

What prompted you to become a Digital Champion?

I set up ClearCommunityWeb as a direct response to wanting to give back to my community after becoming isolated after a period of ill health. I also had experience of helping a senior family member overcome many digital challenges after the loss of a wife, and I was looking at ways of flexible working during ill health or even for when I retired.

What do you think about the online training so far? Did you learn anything new?

As I'm quite experienced with IT, I tend to use the resources/training on the Digital Champions Network in a pick-n-mix way. If a particular situation occurs with a learner, then I'll see what's available on the platform.

The way the information is presented is really good. I particularly like the technology guides.  They are easy to read and digest and break down the information in an easy to understand way and you can print them off which is helpful.

Tell us about your learners. What have you been teaching them?

I run a range of classes, workshops and 1:1 help. The main beneficiaries are senior residents & carers, adults with mental health or learning challenges and refugees.

My main focus in group classes is helping people feel safe, less fearful of the technology and more able to interpret information they see.

1:1 sessions are more specific individual issues from setting up banking, recovering old passwords and setting up anti-virus systems.

What’s been the highlight of your Digital Champion experience so far?

There have been several including:

  • The resident with MS making her first text and then ordering a dial-a-ride on her phone
  • A senior resident getting a job online after being made redundant, age 58
  • Helping an ex convict with an acute mental health condition record video diaries to help organise their thoughts.

People come to the classes lacking in confidence, having a sense of unease and the class provides a place to socially meet others in the same boat. And that helps, particularly with older people, in gaining confidence with using the tech.

What have been some of the challenges of doing this work?

The main one has been managing quite a wide variety of needs. This is an ongoing issue and we will streamline the support as time goes on. The wide range of teaching guides and resources on the Network has been really helpful for us with that.

What one thing would you say to a potential Learner?

There is no question too basic to ask. Just keep asking the questions...

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a Digital Champion?

You can help, so give it a go.

Join our Network today!

If you are helping others with digital skills and would like to benefit from access to Digital Unite's Digital Champions Network as an individual member just complete this short application form here.