Hitchin Priory School in Hertfordshire is one of our adopted schools that we support with work experience, fundraising, career events and training. To launch our Digital Champion training, we built on our existing relationship with the school by offering them the training. We partnered with Age UK Hertfordshire to find suitable volunteers to be taught by the pupils. Residents from a local sheltered accommodation scheme, Harrison Court in Hitchin, were up for the challenge.
On day one the pupils learnt how important digital inclusion is and how older people may struggle to access the internet, as well as learning some basic teaching techniques and receiving some advice on becoming a tutor. They concluded the day by creating a learning plan for the older people they would be teaching.
Day two started off by pairing our young tutors with an older person, after which they spent half a day together. The tutor provided one-to-one training about the ways to access and the various uses of the internet.
The course was very well received, with both the older people and our young tutors enjoying the day while learning valuable lessons. Following the training, resident Joseph White was full of praise saying: "Thank you! The student’s patience with me made it a pleasure to learn."
Inspired by the benefits of the course, the school’s Head Teacher, Geraint Edwards said: "The Digital Inclusion Day is an outstanding example of how a business, young people and members of the local community can come together and share their knowledge and understanding. Bridging the information technology gap is vital to enhancing the life experiences of all involved."
An additional bonus is that both the school students and the older residents developed an improved understanding and appreciation of people of a different age. The students have since visited Harrison Court to see how their pupils are getting on. In addition, Hitchin Priory School are planning a ‘train the trainer’ event, so other students can run similar events themselves in the future.
Smart 4Life Digivans
In 2015, we launched our Smart4Life digivans. These are vans that have been modified into a mobile classroom, bringing IT training to residents in their communities and providing residents with free internet access. The aim of using our Smart4Life digivans is to take the digital world to the resident, giving them access to opportunities that others take for granted.
Through our Smart4Life digivans we are able to:
- Get people connected
- Give them access to hardware
- Offer training and ongoing support to get online
- Bring communities together and create a focal point that we can use to promote our service (e.g. gas servicing)
- Prepare people for the world of work
- Promote and engage residents in community initiatives
Each Smart4life digivan is equipped with:
- Internal Wifi for usage by up to 20 users at any time
- Solar panel power
- Four workstations with swivel seats including a removable seat for wheelchair access
- Wheelchair ramps
- Sky light vents
- Internal and external LED lighting
- 5 metre awning
- Internal heating
‘Get on-line week’ gave us a great opportunity to use SMART4Life van in Rotherham town centre, where there was a large footfall of residents including RMBC Leader, Councillor Read. The event allowed residents to access the internet to search for employment and create an email account, which is a necessity for Universal Tax Credit. Our staff supported residents to create a CV to help them become ‘work ready’. In addition, our Opening Doors work experience programme was offered to residents, with one resident securing an 8 week placement with our caretaker team.