A key part of Citizens Online’s work to promote digital inclusion in North Yorkshire is working in partnership with local organisations. The problem of digital exclusion is too big for one single organisation to tackle. Training ‘embedded’ digital champions who are already working within partner organisations in North Yorkshire enables them to offer digital skills support to service users. This ensures we reach people at the highest risk of digital exclusion and make digital inclusion work sustainable.

Picture shows view of Richmond castle, North Yorkshire
Richmond, North Yorkshire

Older North Yorkshire residents

Age is one of the biggest risk factors for digital exclusion, and partnership working with organisations such as Age UK North Craven means that we are able to reach older individuals in need. Thanks to funding from North Yorkshire County Council Stronger Communities, Age UK North Craven employees have trained as digital champions. With online support and training from the Digital Champions Network, the organisation have helped over 30 local residents build digital skills in the last three months. Sue*, who works at Age UK North Craven, trained as a digital champion and is now supporting service users with digital skills. She says:

“The online digital resources available mean there are always answers or support to find them that can help overcome digital barriers for older and vulnerable clients we work with.”

Sue, Age UK North Craven
A digital champion offers digital skills support to a learner
A digital champion supporting a learner with digital skills

Once trained, digital champions have gained from the support of Citizens Online’s Digital Champion Coordinator for North Yorkshire, Catherine Dearden, who has been able to provide equipment to supplement the Age UK digital skills support to those who needed it. Sue says:

“Having access to the resources available and support from Citizen’s Online has made a big difference to the opportunities for people to learn and access equipment and data too.”

Sue, Age UK North Craven

Vulnerable residents

Working in partnership with specialist local organisations has also helped us to reach other groups of residents who are digitally excluded. IDAS approached Citizens Online to help them with supporting people living in refuge accommodation to access data and devices: As Mel from the IDAS team says, digital access is crucial:

“Many if not all of our clients re locate without having connectivity to basic web / email support. As people leave abusive situations managing digital access safely and in manageable ways to function in daily life is so important.” 

With support from volunteer digital champions and the Reboot North Yorkshire project, Citizens Online were able to source devices and give digital skills support to refuge residents which has proved invaluable:

“Support from Catherine and the team of volunteers helps us plan and initiate digital connectivity / support for our residents.  Accessing reconditioned laptops with skilled volunteer support is invaluable in helping IDAS keyworkers work with residents as they are supported to settle into their new lives.”

Mel, IDAS

Making digital skills support sustainable

Other organisations in North Yorkshire have benefited from training and ongoing support to upskill staff on digital skills and enable them to help others. Employees from charities and community groups such as Camphill Village Trust and Ryedale Carers Support are currently training digital champions. Over the course of the project Citizens Online hope to extend our reach further so more people can receive the support they need.

Anyone interested in training embedded digital champions within their organisation in North Yorkshire should contact Catherine Dearden, Citizens Online Digital Champion Coordinator, at loading... .

* Some names have been changed