18th February, 2019 by Katharinet

Digital Champions NetworkBruno Brunskill joined Digital Unite's Digital Champions Network a few months ago as part of the Lottery funded One Digital Programme. He has been teaching people how to use their computers for about seven years around the villages of Aston Tirrold and Aston Upthorpe (aka 'The Astons’) in South Oxfordshire,.

Digital Championing – the early years

Astons Online community group was set up in 2012 with funding from BT, South Oxfordshire District Council and Astons village organisations. At that time the term 'Digital Champion' hadn't been invented; Astons Online was innovative in providing free IT advice in the local community using the Village Hall for regular drop in events.

Astons Online provides a triage service responding to visitors’ issues and problems such as accessing welfare information, keeping in touch with their families, fixing a computer that is 'stuck'.  Many are mature visitors who are under-confident with digital devices but nevertheless mostly come to the sessions armed with their laptops or tablets – that's technology tablets and not medication!

“Digital Unite's resources are more relevant than others I've come across”

Bruno and colleagues have been able to glean information over time from several different sources such as Google, Which Computing and Dummies for …., However having found Digital Unite by 'Googling' one day he registered and discovered the training and support Digital Champions Network.

“What I really liked about these resources,” says Bruno, “was that they were more relevant to the situations I was facing in the drop-in sessions, over others I had come into contact with. The bite-sized accessibility courses were particularly helpful – topics such as Memory Loss, Visual Impairments, learners with a physical disability or dexterity issue ”.

“In addition the content in the Digital Champions Essential course echoed the processes Astons Online had already been using and this gave us confidence that our approach was a good one”.

Bruno has helped many people with a variety of queries

Here are just a few:

* The person who came to a session with a tablet wanting to set up gmail to keep in touch with her family. A friend had created the gmail account for her but omitted to also give her the password (and had promptly gone abroad for some time).   Our visitor had no idea a password is needed for an email account.

* The lone traveller who owned a new Windows 10 laptop exclaimed:  'Why is my machine running so slowly, when it's brand new?”.

Good question, and it took a significant amount of time and effort to get to the bottom of that one.

* Or the recently widowed lady who had fallen prey to a offline scam. Understandably she was very nervous about contemplating online banking but through changing her passwords, explaining some simple security measures, her confidence has grown to the point where she is happy to bank online.

It's just so rewarding. Just do it!

This is what Bruno said when we asked him what he would say to others interested in becoming a Digital Champion.

“Forget having to 'present properly', speak like a human being (i.e. no jargon) and go and do it”.

Join our Digital Champions Network

For individuals working with small charitable organisations or volunteering on their own in their communities we can offer free membership of the Network as part of the Lottery funded One Digital programme. Get in touch with us today to find out more.