L&Q housing association is set to help 750 of its residents across 18 London boroughs to get online thanks to the launch of a three-year volunteer-led digital inclusion programme.
Called Digital Champions, the project intends to assist L&Q residents with little or no experience of computers to become proficient and get online with 3,000 one-to-one learning sessions.
Delivery partner, Digital Unite, will recruit and train 150 community volunteers to become ‘Digital Champions’—computer and internet experts who will help to share their knowledge with other L&Q residents.
The skills they learn will connect L&Q residents with online banking, information from search engines, savings shopping online, government services, renewing benefit claims, job searches, increased employability as well as family and friends through social media.
Digital Champions are likely to be recruited from active residents, unemployed residents, retired people, L&Q staff or university students.
They will provide learning sessions in public places like UK Online Centres and Public Libraries. The volunteers will have access to over 400 online training guides and a peer-to-peer support forum, allowing each learning session to be tailored to the individual learner’s needs.
The Digital Champions programme is intended to complement L&Q’s Digital 400 initiative which aims to provide residents with bespoke computer tuition, equipment and internet access and further reflects L&Q’s commitment as a signatory of the UK Digital Inclusion Charter.
Mark Rowe, Financial Inclusion Projects Officer at L&Q, said: “To be online our residents need and want regular, one-to-one personal support and having a team of trained and enthused Digital Champions will enable us to provide that. Through our existing membership of the Digital Champions Network we have seen the huge potential of giving Digital Champion volunteers the right support. We are now much looking forward to working with Digital Unite to take this activity to the next level and beyond.”
Kathy Valdes, Managing Director of Digital Unite, said: “Digital Champions programmes are conceived on a principle of capacity building. It builds residents’ capacity to use digital technology and to help each other use digital technology. It also builds capacity within organisations so they can deliver essential sustainable and hyper-local support and ultimately transact with their communities in a simpler, clearer and faster way. We are excited to be working with L&Q on the next stage in their digital inclusion strategy and to help them realise the full potential of their Digital Champion army.”
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