Volunteer digital coaches help Isle folk get online

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Since April, ongo and North Lincolnshire Council has encouraged over 440 people to become more digitally savvy thanks to the hard work of digital volunteers.

Free drop in sessions are held every week across North Lincolnshire with the aim of getting more people online and reaping the rewards of the digital world.

So far over 400 hours has been spent teaching local people how to get online, send emails, use social media and access vital information online to help them in their daily lives.

There are currently ten digital coaches and more volunteers are always welcome to come onboard too.

In the Isle there is a session at the Crowle Hub on Mondays between 5-7pm.

No appointment is necessary; people are encouraged to drop in.

Richard Baker is one of the volunteer digital coaches, he said, “I’ve spent a lot of years working with IT and I think it’s really good to be able to pass on my knowledge and experience those in the community who really don’t have any digital ability.

“Over several sessions we can work with people towards creating email addresses, even getting on to social media like facebook. People often enjoy and are quite amazed by what you can do now-a-days. It’s quite surprising to see they people develop over time just through these short sessions.”

Colin Nicholls is delighted he can now send messages to his family in America, he said: “I started coming to the sessions so I could ask questions about getting on the internet and onto facebook, and I’ve found out exactly what I wanted to know. All my friends are on facebook, so I can now talk to them in Wales and can even send messages across the world to my family in West Virginia in America.”

Chris Baker, Community Investment Co-ordinator, ongo, said: “We know we have a disproportionate amount of tenants who are not online and we’re trying to do our very best to get people those people online.

“We’re trying to make it as easy as possible for people to come and have a try, find out what it’s all about, and perhaps develop their own appetite for it and see how it can change their lives.

“We’ve got a band of fantastic volunteers who know their way around the gadgets and who have a lovely manner with people so they are there to help people in a one to one basis right from scratch.

“For us at ongo digital inclusion is about social and financial inclusion and we want to bring this to people who have never had it before so they can develop their own interests, look at what they want to online, and more importantly get connected and live a better life through having access to the internet on a regular basis.”

Darren Hepworth, Senior Business Analyst (Customer & Commercial), North Lincolnshire Council, said: “The sessions are proving a real hit with local residents wanting to learn how to use the internet, particularly those who have friends or family living abroad. They are realising that not only is it a cheap option, but it is a great way to keep in touch with people and keep in touch with what’s going on. For some, e.g. the elderly, it is even more important as it offers a lifeline to many, who may not see or hear from people for days on end. The internet has lots of benefits and if we can teach people just a few things they can do online, then we’ve done some good. While we have some excellent volunteers available to help run the sessions, we still need more, so if you are interested, please get in touch.”

For more information about the sessions or if you’d like to become a volunteer digital coach contact 01724 844848.