Lloyds Banking Group Digital Champion overcomes rural challenges and wins award

11 Apr 2018


A Digital Champion from Lloyds Banking Group has been helping his local Online Centre in Cambridgeshire to overcome rural challenges, and, along with the rest of his team of volunteers, has won an award.

 

Kevin (second from left) accepting the award with learners and volunteers from Manea Internet Club

 

Kevin Ball, 53, is an IT Risk Manager at Lloyds Banking Group. Working in Peterborough but living in March, Cambridgeshire, Kevin decided to become a volunteer after hearing about the Digital Champions programme at a Lloyds Banking Group event.

Kevin says: “We heard a lot of examples of the good work Lloyds Banking Group’s Digital Champions are doing. It made me feel inspired and when they asked if any of us wanted to join the 25,000 others who are already registered as Digital Champions, it was a no-brainer for me.

“I did the online training and found an opportunity with Manea Internet Club, a group specifically helping senior citizens. I was happy to help and I’ve been volunteering there for two years now.”

Manea is a small and very rural village in Cambridgeshire and faces the same digital problems that many other rural Online Centres struggle with.

Kevin explains: “The area is still playing catch-up in the digital age. The internet connection is very poor and at one point we lost it completely for two months. The phone signal can be non-existent and the equipment is quite old and slow.”

Luckily, the group are very dedicated and the determination of the volunteers and learners meant that these issues didn’t hold them back.

Kevin says: “I encouraged the learners that were able to bring their own devices to do so, and many of them have. We also got a new router and modem put in place, which means the internet connection is better. The learners always make it to the class no matter what. It’s a bit like a social club for them.”

Kevin continues: “One of my learners is writing a memoir on Microsoft Word and I’m helping her put her pictures into the document. Another is selling his old books on eBay. One lady who was very embarrassed about her lack of digital skills is now catching up on TV shows on BBC iPlayer.

“It’s marvellous seeing the impact that my volunteering has had. The learners are so grateful for the help and I’ve been able to improve my own coaching skills as I’ve been going along.”

Kevin and the other volunteers were very surprised when they had been nominated for an award.

Kevin says: “We were put forward for ‘Best Volunteer Group’ at the #BeInspired Awards, and we ended up shortlisted and invited to the ceremony.

“I brought my wife and daughter, it was like being at the Oscars! When they called our name out I was so surprised. I just couldn’t believe it but I was so happy that we won.

“Volunteering as a Digital Champion has been a great experience for me and I can’t recommend it enough.”

Learner Bob Bowater, adds: “At the class, we learn computer skills which are marvellous. I didn’t know anything about this before I joined! Kevin and all the volunteers are very good here - we really couldn’t do without them.”

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Outreach and Development Manager, Nyree Scott, says: “Kevin really is a pillar of the internet group. He has gone above and beyond what is expected of a Digital Champion.”