The Digital Brighton & Hove project (DBH) provides innovative solutions and services for digitally excluded people across the city. Through cross-sector partnership work, they’re building a network of trained Digital Champions to support service users, staff and volunteers with their digital transformation journeys. Phase 2 of the DBH project (which ended in May 2019) was funded by the National Lottery Community Fund (through the One Digital programme) and Brighton & Hove City Council.
Josie Jeffery worked for the project as a part-time Community Digital Champion and helped around 15 learners a week. With a background in community work in both a professional and voluntary capacity, Josie brought a passion for helping people into her role as Digital Champion.
Josie enjoyed helping people get to grips with essential digital skills. Because she personally benefits so much from the digital world, the idea of helping others to use the internet naturally appealed to her. For her, the key to being an effective Digital Champion was far more about people and communication skills than digital skills:
“Being friendly, being a good communicator and having lots of patience is what really matters when helping people, whatever the subject matter”– Josie Jeffery
In particular, Josie enjoyed being able to help individuals tackle their fears and be empowered by learning a new skill that helped them become more connected with the world. Josie says: “Never under-estimate how supporting others can help you grow. Working with people is unpredictable and no day is ever the same, be prepared to meet some incredible people. You don’t need to be a tech whizz, just some basic skills, a bucketload of patience and a desire to help others.”
In her role, Josie supported hundreds of people including customers at the council’s Customer Service Centre in Brighton. Josie would be on hand to help customers carry out their tasks online. For instance, taking a photograph of a birth certificate or proof of employment and sending it via email, all using a smartphone.
On average, it would usually take ten minutes to help someone learn how to email a photograph using a smartphone but it felt like a short amount of time to empower a customer to be able to carry out simple tasks digitally, without needing to get on a bus or queue for instance.
Josie also supported a number of community groups and organisations in Whitehawk, Bevendean and east Brighton to enable them to increase their online presence by setting up social media accounts and coaching them in how to create engaging content on social media platforms. For example, through sessions she ran at YMCA Evolve, Josie helped both service users and staff to gain more confidence to share stories online.
Georgia Leigh, YMCA Evolve Service Manager said: “We are really enjoying what Josie has been doing. For me, your involvement has really prompted me to try and get to grips with using digital better; I now feel really confident to admin the Facebook page and am using it actively and in ways I wasn’t before!”
On top of this work, Josie also enjoyed running a number of fun social media workshops helping older people combat social isolation by using Facebook or Whatsapp. On the back of these, she built trust with older local residents and continued providing support for them in Digital Drop-ins, helping them with online shopping, browsing, problem solving, finding entertainment and borrowing books from the library.
Sylvie, a learner from a Seniors Housing Scheme, says: “My sessions with Josie has given me more interests, more contact and taken away loneliness […] I consider myself extremely fortunate to have Josie’s help […] I think the internet is amazing!”
Josie benefited from the training resources available on the Digital Champions Network and encouraged a number of staff members and volunteers to make the most of this free available support.
Josie also frequently used the Digital Brighton & Hove signposting website where local residents can find information about over 30 places to get online in the city for free and over 50 drop-ins, courses and sessions that are available to help with basic digital skills. Josie also suggested places in person where learners can find digital support and free internet access in the city.
“I found the work very rewarding especially when I worked with clients over a period of time and could see their progression. I enjoyed finding new and fun ways to make a complicated subject more digestible to people i.e. the speed to double click a computer mouse is like calling a horse, click-click!”
More about Digital Brighton & Hove
As of May 2019 the project has recruited 436 Digital Champions; delivered 6,944 digital skills support sessions; supported at least 4,503 individuals; engaged with 241 organisations. Read our final impact report here.
For more information about the Digital Brighton & Hove, or if you are interested in becoming a Digital Champion, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org