This is the second of our two-part report on the Digital Participation Charter pilot research – to read part one click here.
We asked participants to give us specific examples of how they had met, somewhat met or exceeded their Charter commitments.
“We have provided digital champion training to staff and tutors across the organisations, to support the delivery of essential digital skills in a variety of different learning opportunities.” – Exceeded
“Volunteers are supported to use texting and emails to stay in touch when working remotely. If working in an office setting, volunteers are offered IT training to use in house systems/programmes such as word, excel, outlook and more.” – Exceeded
“Around 400 members of staff have received training this year. Staff have developed a range of digital skills and have also had the opportunity to put their skills in to practice and to support others.” – Met
“We are gradually getting better, we have moved to Office 365 and are almost completely cloud based now. We manage our own website and social media and distribute information using digital technologies.” – Somewhat met
Essential Digital Skills Examples
Of the participants, 94% advised they had provided Essential Digital Skills within their organisations which demonstrates the common language we were hoping had been established is well on the way to being a sector norm.
We asked the organisations to tell us more about this and have provided examples below:
One organisation has used the Essential Digital Skills framework as a guideline to develop their own products. They said:
“We have appointed a digital skills trainer to develop a tailored package of support for our staff.”
Another had focused on offering digital skills support to volunteers:
“We have incorporated questions about volunteer’s digital skills, in our recruitment materials, and in our induction packs so that we can find out if volunteers would like to increase their digital skills while they are with us. We offer volunteers the chance to sit in on any staff training where possible, and provide instruction on the use of particular devices and apps.”
Another was using the Essential Digital Skills framework to set a baseline, and then using digital champions to help fill in where there were gaps.
“Since signing the charter (fairly recently) we have continued to develop our champions model which in turn will help us deliver digital sessions and resources to staff. Our current essential skills survey will also help us with this challenge.”
Types of Digital Inclusion Activity
There are a wide range of activities taking place throughout the country; including establishing digital lending libraries, delivering EDS training, creating and embedding Digital Champions within organisations, building relationships, networks and working in partnership across a number of sectors. This broad range of activity is what we would expect to see given the variety of organisations engaged in digital inclusion work.
Our Digital Champion training and follow up support model demonstrates how effective creating Digital Champions from people already involved in organisation can be, whether they are staff members or volunteers. Through this we have been able to find out about some fantastic and innovative projects our signatories are running.
An example of this is Melville Housing Association’s ‘Digital Kitchen’ project, based in their community kitchen in Dalkeith.
Run as a series of interactive sessions over a six week period, the Digital Kitchen delivers a social element as well as essential digital skills giving participants the opportunity to have fun and meet new people. As well as cooking, the topics covered include:
• How to use the internet to find recipes and help with cooking and grocery shopping
• Where to shop online and how to get the best deals
• Where to find health and wellbeing websites
• How to access NHS health and fitness trackers
• Linking up cooking and lifestyle websites and apps
The feedback from the Melville tenants who took part has been overwhelmingly positive. By using digital devices to
look up recipes, as well as access budgeting apps and free library resources, participants felt they had
increased both their digital skills and their financial capability.
Sandra Weston, Digital Kitchen participant said: “These sessions have given me much more confidence to try things at home; (both with) food and using the internet. I use Pinterest for ideas, as it keeps things in once place.”
Building Local Partnerships
SCVO recently received a request for help from Victim Support Scotland to try and provide a laptop for one of their
service users in who needed a device to start a modern apprenticeship in the Renfrewshire area.
To assist with this we reached out to DigiReN, a local network of organisations, including Engage Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire Council committed to tackling digital inclusion.
They were quick to respond and managed to source a refurbished laptop through one of their contacts. This demonstrates the importance of a local partnership approach.
Diane Webb, Digital Policy Lead at Renfrewshire Council (and member of DigiRen) said: “While it was brilliant to get this message from the support worker at Victim Support – “Really can’t thank you enough as we will have a very happy young man starting his theory soon with no debt” – I vowed that we couldn’t let this happen again.
I’m currently working with colleagues and partners to see what type of solution we can come up with that can be sustained long term. A solution that provides flexible options such as the provision of a laptop for life, long and short-term equipment loans and a loan to learn option potentially. It is hoped we could manage this in partnership and via the DigiRen network as a route for referral. Watch this space!”
Senior Management Support
Evidence from SCVO’s “Creating a Digitally Confident Third Sector in Scotland: What Next?” publication shows that support by senior management within organisations is crucial to the success of digital inclusion projects.
Trust Housing Association in Edinburgh are an example of how effective this can be. Following a Digital Working Group headed by the Director they were able to create a digital strategy, which in turn led to a Digital Participation Officer being appointed.
As part of this strategy they have involved staff, volunteers, tenants and their families. Staff and volunteer Digital Champions have delivered weekly digital training sessions as well as offering 1-1 support within the local community.
They have also created a public ‘kiosk’ with a touch screen facility for people to use which has been a great success.
They said: “Having a touch screen kiosk in the lounges for ongoing learning has been a life changing experience for
some older people. It has been a learning process for us and has helped eradicate fear of technology.
“Older people are now aware of the positives of learning. It has helped combat social isolation and improved wellbeing when tenants can speak and see their family and friends. Our vision is that all tenants can participate in debates, despite any communication barriers or physical ill-heath. A tenant who never got involved has been participating after introduction to a tablet and look old photographs of the town, and reminisce. A 96 year old who has an iPad, can now email and Skype.”
Essential Digital Skills Training
Over the past year we have become increasingly aware that many Charter signatories are providing training not just to service users but also to staff and volunteers as they have identified a digital skills gap. North Ayrshire council are a great example of how this can work.
They said: “We have utilised the Flexible Workforce Development Fund to provide basic training around the Foundation element of the Essential Digital Skills framework and more system specific training for staff. We have a network of code clubs in schools and libraries and are supporting the roll-out to further locations through a bank of staff who have been training and PVG checked.
“We conducted a survey of staff in relation to the Basic Digital Skills framework and the findings help us devise a programme of training and support. We have launched a Digi Guru programme to support staff to support their colleagues in the implementation and use of new systems and technologies. Around 150 Digi Gurus have signed up and about half have received additional system specific training. 30 of the Digi Gurus have also become STEM ambassadors.”
Organisations can also benefit from the wealth of resources available, however some have gone a step further and created their own, tailored to their specific needs.
Edinburgh City Libraries have created the ‘Get Online’ programme, which provides digital skills for service users in libraries throughout the city. It also offers 1-1 volunteer support to learners via partnership working with the University of Edinburgh.
SCVO recognise that a lot of the great work happening requires more than just time and resource. Funding is often required cover staff costs, rent, utilities and kit/devices. Camphill Blair Drummond were experiencing this and submitted a successful application to the Charter Fund in 2017 in the hope of addressing the issue.
They said: “We received funding through the Digital Charter fund to purchase computers and tablets for use by our residents and day students. This has increased opportunities for the development of digital skills amongst the people who use our services. We use digital methods for many aspects of our daily work such as care notes, email communications, HR functions etc. Most of our employees are comfortable in using these however there are a small number of individuals who need more support to develop the necessary digital skills.”
What will we do to better support our Charter signatories in the future?
As a result of this project, we gained a valuable range of new knowledge around what organisations are doing and where we could provide more support.
We intend to host a retrospective event in September, one year on from the launch of our EDS Toolkit. We will invite a selection of speakers to present some real-life examples of how they have used/adapted the Toolkit to measure the EDS of their workforce and/or their volunteers. We hope this will establish an element of best practice across the sector and will give us feedback on alterations and adjustments we may need to make to ensure the Toolkit is as effective as it can be.
We have also been working to improve the content of the Digital Participation section of the SCVO website and also to make it more user-friendly. We have updated the Resources section, created a digital version of the EDS Toolkit, including the Checklists, and improved the Charter sign up process. However we have kept the commitments section as is as this seems to be the right way of asking organisations about the digital inclusion work they are doing, or are intending to do.
In addition to improvements in the sign-up process we will also introduce a review process where we will ask signatories to update their commitments on an annual basis. This will ensure the information we have is up to date and will allow organisations to measure their own progress as we are aware the aim is not to attribute activity to the Charter but to help organisations have a wider context in which to situate their work. This will also help to highlight orgs who have signed the Charter but may require additional support to reach their commitments. We are aware our Charter signatories are based all over the country and have different resources and capacity.
Finally, we intend to keep the relationship management process of our Charter signatories much the same, although we are finding through a mix of practitioner events, signatory interest and SCVO’s own product offers, we are working more closely with a wider range of organisations. This has been fantastic as it has helped us hone and improve our support, build better networks and learn more about the sector across Scotland as a whole.
What are the key messages for different audiences?
From the findings from this piece of work we realise more than ever the importance of sharing a common or shared
language due to the range of different organisations and audiences involved.
We also now recognise the importance of including the work being done on improving the Essential Digital Skills of the workforce and volunteers within organisations as previously we hadn’t recognised the volume of work or measured the impact this could have.
There is a lot of great work happening within digital inclusion in Scotland and at SCVO we want to celebrate the success and share the activities and learning happening by the people involved; signing the Charter allows us to continue do this.