Samuel and Sheona on becoming Digital Champions
Digital Champions Samuel and Sheona tell us what the role is like and what they enjoy about it.
Good Things Foundation’s Volunteer Manager, Hilary Nugent, recently visited Tap into IT, an Online Centre in Edinburgh that provides digital skills support to older people to help them get the most out of internet and technology. Digital Champions Samuel and Sheona, told us about their roles and what they like about supporting people to get online.
“I’m 16 years old and I’ve been volunteering at my local Online Centre, Tap into IT, in Edinburgh for five years now. I help out regularly at a sheltered scheme, supporting residents to gain digital skills and make the most of the online world. Since the lockdown began, I’ve partnered with one of the other volunteers, Sheona, and we run zoom sessions to keep everyone in touch.”
I love being a digital champion, it’s great to get to know new people and hear their stories. I don’t think you can teach people digital skills until you understand them and what motivates them – this helps me to support them in the best way possible.
“Being a Digital Champion has really helped me develop my own skill set. I’ve become a better communicator since I often try to translate my digital knowledge into a language that other people can understand. I’ve also learnt the importance of patience – knowing something is one thing, but teaching it to others is the hardest skill!”
“If you’re thinking about becoming a Digital Champion then I say go for it! Most people will be happy to have any help you can give and you’ll be able to learn new skills in the process.”
“Ten years ago, when I had recently retired from teaching, a friend asked me to help him out as a ‘one off’ at a digital skills session one morning. Ten years later, I am still a volunteer and enjoying every moment of being a Digital Champion. Now a board member of the organisation, I’ve done lots of training to develop my own skills.”
“Like many of my fellow Digital Champions, I believe that listening and chatting to learners is the key to effectively supporting them with their digital skills. I was once sitting with a lady who was completely uninterested in the digital world and who had only come to the session for some company when she told me that she used to live in Spain and that she still got emails from a pen friend. She said that as she got older she was struggling to remember her Spanish and was losing touch with her friend. I was able to show her Google Translate and translate the emails – I also showed her Duolingo! The last thing she said to me was ‘see you next week’.”
I would probably rate my digital skills a six or seven out of ten – but I really don’t think this is the most important thing when it comes to supporting someone else to get online. Being able to listen and be empathetic is equally important, if not more so.
“Being a Digital Champion is hugely rewarding, it has pushed me to keep up with a rapidly changing digital world. I really enjoy working closely with Samuel. It really shows that you are never too young (or too old!) to get involved.”