With the Government last month (October) announcing plans to help more adults to get the digital skills they need to get on in life and work, one Norfolk resident explains how a national volunteering initiative is already successfully doing just that. Hilary Sutton, from Aylsham, is one of Clarion Futures’ 220 Digital Champions who give up their time to help residents use computers and make the most of the internet. Having joined the Digital Champions Network more than a year ago, she now hosts weekly computer sessions for residents at two sheltered housing schemes in the local area.
On her role as a Digital Champion, Hilary said: “I help residents to learn the basic skills needed to be online – whether it’s simply setting up an email account, paying a bill online or comparing the price of electricity.
She added: “One of the main benefits of the scheme for our residents is that learning basic online skills can help them to feel less isolated. For example, one lady who was previously unable to use a computer, has now joined Facebook. She has found that joining a social network has been a great way of helping her to keep in contact with her family.”
Kenne Amissah, Digital Inclusion Manager for Clarion Futures said: “Digital Champions, like Hilary, have a vital role to play in equipping residents with both the confidence and skills needed to get by online. Since establishing our Clarion Futures Digital Champions project, we have heard countless examples of how residents’ lives have been transformed thanks to their support.”
On Thursday 22nd November Clarion Futures, along with key partners Microsoft and Hitachi Solutions, hosted a networking event for its Digital Champions. The event showcased some of the initiative’s key successes to date and how partners are willing to support in the development of Digital Champions.
Ciara McMillan, Industry Director for Housing at Hitachi Solutions said: “We are incredibly supportive of Digital Champions and the role they play in communities. As a technology provider, we provide solutions that deliver transformation underpinned by technology, but we also understand that the new digital world can be challenging for some and the role of people like Hilary is vital to support them to have access to services. I personally believe Digital Champions are the key to unlocking technology to those who most need it and we are committed to Clarion in our partnership to continue to grow and develop Digital Champions so they can reach more people in our communities.”
Gillian Naish, Customer Success Lead for Microsoft said: “Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. We are passionate about designing products that our customers love and that are accessible to everyone. As such we are delighted to be working with Clarion Futures to help upskill the Digital Champions working in the communities and teaching them about the great accessibility features available to them within our Office software.”
A charitable foundation, Clarion Futures, will invest £150 million over 10 years to deliver one of the largest social investment programmes in the country. Clarion Futures will:
Clarion Futures is part of Clarion Housing Group, which also comprises the country’s largest housing association, a property development company and a maintenance contractor.