After meeting at a Croydon Digital networking event, RedDoor approached us to see how they could become involved with the community and volunteer their time to help support us with our digital inclusion work.
Croydon worked with RedDoor to devise a series of workshops and a ‘syllabus’ for basic digital skills to help residents get online.
The team decided the best place to deliver these workshops would be our local libraries, since these community spaces are familiar and easily accessible, and would encourage interaction without being overwhelming.
- Croydon and RedDoor developed a series of quarterly workshops at each of Croydon’s 13 libraries across the borough
- Target audience – older residents with little or no digital skills
- Sessions took place in the daytime, during term-time, worked around other groups and activities taking place in libraries
- Devices and connectivity were provided
- Sessions lasted 2 to 2.5 hours each
- Residents were encouraged to return to subsequent sessions
- Following the sessions, participants were encouraged to get help from library staff if needed
- 6 months of sessions were delivered before interruption due to Covid-19
We researched which type of device we thought might be suitable and finally decided that Chromebooks provided a good solution due to their portability, screen size and touch screen features.
We also provided a mouse to anyone that was struggling to use the touch screen to ensure they got the most out of their session. The price point as well as the ‘plug and play’ nature of the devices was very attractive.
The workshops focused on assisting local residents to have the right access, skills, motivation and trust to be confident online and use a range of services.
The topics covered by RedDoor volunteers included:
- getting online and staying safe whilst you’re there
- using email and how to set up your own email account
- how to get the best from an online account with Croydon Council
- online shopping and online banking
- social media overview
Promoting the sessions
Croydon Council designed, printed and paid for posters to advertise the sessions and flyers for residents to take away with details of their session time. These were displayed in all 9 local libraries, GPs, chemists and community spaces advertising the session details, dates and booking process.
Residents secured their place by contacting their local library who managed the details for each session, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Needless to say, library staff were very proactive in promoting the sessions to regular visitors and encouraging them to spread the word.
Some libraries called the participants to remind them of the upcoming session that they had registered for.
Consideration needed to be given to the session timings to avoid clashing with toddler morning groups, term time, after school and so it was agreed that 12pm to 2pm would be the best time of day.
Initially, it took some time to build up attendance to the sessions, largely due to lack of confidence and fear on the part of the residents.
Once they discovered that the sessions were informative yet broken down into easy to follow sections run by very friendly staff, word began to spread and the uptake steadily increased.
How it worked on the day
Two volunteers from local tech company RedDoor Managed IT Services, ran two hour digital workshops in Croydon libraries aimed at older residents. They provided 4G connectivity via a mobile hotspot, whilst Croydon Council provided Chromebooks.
The libraries were instrumental in setting up an informal classroom style area for residents to be seated for the session.
The course lead talked through the content and the exercises and another volunteer was there to provide residents with one to one assistance and reassurance.
- Whilst many residents were curious, it took a little while to build up some momentum and for the spaces to be filled
- Some libraries proved more popular than others with full sessions, whereas attendance at other libraries was often determined by factors such as bad weather which discouraged residents to go out
- Attendance was starting to pick up in late February to March, then unfortunately sessions had to be cancelled due to Covid-19
- Anecdotal feedback from residents that participated was extremely positive. They felt they had benefited hugely from the sessions, they were taught in a friendly and informal way and they were keen to put their learnings into practice with support from their family and friends