Case Study Volunteer – Michael
Why be a Digital Champion? Are you a cheerleader for the online world? For those of us already connected, it hardly seems that modern technology needs further promotion, its benefits self-evident? You might as well promote the benefits of round wheels over square ones.
After volunteering for a while, helping people enable themselves to participate in the online world in ways many of us take for granted, it’s clear that the technology is the least of it.
It is the exclusion of people – some fearful, some vulnerable and some belligerently raging against the tide – that hits home. At the recent GO ON Worcester conference, this exclusion was best summed up for me as “the new literacy”. There is a real danger in people being left behind and they need championing!
Being a Digital Champion is lending a helping hand to people in a simple yet powerful way – instantly opening up new life opportunities. Show someone how to use Skype and you’ve enabled them to see faraway children or never seen grandchildren. Show someone how to email and it opens up a line of communication that renews friendships. Demonstrate Online Shopping and it’s a intimating trip to busy shops avoided. Each simple step breaks down the isolation.
You are almost envious of those getting switched on for the first time to things many us consider everyday tools that are taken for granted and even silently cursed.
I would recommend being a Digital Champion to everyone. You’re helping people with almost instantaneous results. It is also the perfect antidote to personal technological overload.
How do you become a Digital Champion? I fell into it. I currently out of work following redundancy and as part of the Work Programme, I was put forward for work experience as a Digital Champion. That turned into volunteering, a common route as many people keep volunteering after their work experience tour of duty ends.
I didn’t think I was good Champion material. I’ve worked with technology my whole career in Marketing and was unashamedly a techie but I didn’t think for a minute that I would enjoy helping others help themselves. I pretty much flunked the Work Experience interview but luckily Fortis saw something I didn’t know was there.