Addressing Social Isolation

Addressing Social Isolation through Digital Awareness

Louise Harper, in the Retail Learning team at Lloyds Banking Group, has volunteered her time to organise digital awareness sessions for the over 50s.

The sessions, which are held at the Christchurch Community Centre, in Swindon, have proven to be truly rewarding, with Louise seeing the benefits first-hand. She said: "A lot of the people in the area don’t have regular contact with their family, the idea was to help them with computer skills so they can keep in touch with loved ones. It’s grown from there to keeping them up-to-date with the 21st Century.”

Digital Champions

Louise took over as the main organiser late last year. Her job includes setting up the sessions and co-ordinating volunteers.

This is all part of a Digital Champions initiative at the Group. Digital Champions are colleagues who pledge to improve the digital skills and financial capability of at least two individuals or organisations each year. A friend, family member, charity or SME can benefit from a colleague passing on their internet skills.

Most of the attendees at the Centre are aged 70 or above, with levels of experience varying. Each person attending is shown how to set up an email account if they don’t already have one, and the basics of navigating around the web, before focusing on individual needs.

However, Louise knew there were initial barriers to getting people online. She said: “Many of the people didn’t know why they would need to use the internet, because they didn’t know what it could do.

Mutually beneficial

Louise told us how she approached the situation, adding, “So I was keen to sit down with them individually and chat to them to find out more about them to see how using the internet could benefit them.”

It’s also a mutually beneficial experience, with Louise adding, “I come away on a Wednesday morning with a massive smile on my face. I really enjoy their company. The people we have come on a regular basis are so grateful, it gives me a great sense of passion and pride.”

Louise also helps younger people. She co-ordinates volunteers from the local college who can use the volunteering sessions as part of their coursework. They can also gain experience with a large employer for their CV.

Louise added, “It’s a social occasion for those who attend. The older attendees like being around young people as well as the learning aspect of it. The skills we teach them are giving people the opportunity to keep in touch with the outside world and opening the doors to internet shopping and other possibilities.”

Mutually beneficial

Helping Britain Prosper

There are plans to expand the sessions across Swindon by working with local organisations in the area as part of our Helping Britain Prosper Plan target to train 2.5 million individuals, SMEs and charities in digital skills by 2020. Louise is one of many colleagues using their time to help communities prosper, as part of our target to deliver 2.3 million volunteering hours by 2020.

Read more about what we’re doing in our 2017 Helping Britain Prosper Plan.

Having Digital Skills helps everyone in the UK unlock the huge benefits of the internet such as finding work, staying in control of finances or keeping in touch with loved ones. We now have the largest corporate network of Digital Champions in the UK and Champs like Louise are making a fundamental difference to people’s lives in our communities. I am so proud of all of our colleagues drive to help fix the digital divide.

Leigh Smyth, Head of Digital Inclusion at the Group