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Hyde's army of digital champions support 500 residents to get online

Posted on 26 April 2016

Hyde Plus celebrated its Digital Champions programme at an event for 60 volunteers who have taught residents to get online throughout the past two years.

Hyde employees, residents and local community members came together on 14 April to celebrate the programme’s achievements at London’s British Film Institute on Tottenham Court Road.

Guests heard from Mary Smith and Edith Garrard, Hyde residents who are in their eighties and have attended weekly lessons with a volunteer over the last six months. They have gone from complete beginners to FaceTime fanatics, regularly contacting a combined total of 20 grandchildren from their tablets.

Edith said: “It’s been a complete life changer - definitely. I don’t get bored anymore. I don’t get lonely. I had problems with my memory and using the internet has brought things back. I love online shopping now - the only problem is I don’t have enough space in my bedroom for all the handbags I’ve bought!”

Since launching the Digital Champions project in 2014, volunteers have supported more than 500 Hyde residents and hundreds more community members to learn digital skills. They’ve given 3,500 hours of their time, delivered 850 digital skills sessions, set up new training sessions in 30 locations and supported 4,500 visits to community centre IT drop-ins.

As more and more services go online, being able to use the internet is increasingly important for residents in terms of saving both time and money. It is particularly important for residents who are in receipt of benefits and will be required to manage these online as Universal Credit is rolled out.

Digital Champions were presented with certificates of achievement by Digital Unite’s CEO Emma Weston, with whom Hyde co-founded the online training platform The Digital Champions Network.

Sarah Thurman, Director of Hyde Plus said: “The commitment and enthusiasm that volunteers have given to the project has been incredible. We know that their efforts have made a lasting impact - our evaluation last year showed 80% of Digital Champion learners stayed online after their training ended. This event was a great way for Hyde to say thank you and recognise the Digital Champions’ achievements.”

You can view the presentation from the event.

Watch Hyde Digital Champions talking about their best moments.

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