Volunteers needed in local libraries

People in Sherborne, Blandford, Lyme Regis and Shaftesbury need help to use digital technology.

There is no need to be an IT expert, just an interest in helping people and basic knowledge of computers and phones.

Digital Champions are volunteers that support people to learn basic computer skills. Around 70,000 people in Dorset are not online at all. The champions give people confidence to start, help them to save money and keep safe online.

Jessica Orchard, of Wimborne, (pictured above) started last year, hoping to become a librarian.

She said: “Originally I became a Digital Champion for my own personal gain, but now I do it for the feeling I get when I see people improve. One of my learners cried with happiness when he learned something.

“I meet lots of new people and admire them for coming and trying something new, especially if they are older.”

Currently, over 50 Digital Champions run weekly sessions in Dorset libraries and learning centres. They normally see up to six learners over two to three hours. Now, libraries in Sherborne, Shaftesbury, Blandford and Lyme Regis want to offer sessions too.  Other libraries want to provide more sessions.

Learners often lack anyone else with the time and patience to teach them. Your help will allow them to stay connected to family and use essential online services. Many learners bring their own digital device and library facilities are also available.

Roy Arnold, also of Wimborne, has attended Jessica’s sessions for several weeks. Initially, she had to remind Roy where to click each time. Now, he logs in and remembers what to do.

Daryl Turner, Dorset County Council cabinet member for natural and built environment, said: “It’s fantastic that we have so many Digital Champions who are happy to share their knowledge. They already help more than 100 people a month to get to grips with computers, phones, tablets and the internet.”

“There are still lots of people in Dorset who need help with digital skills and risk being left behind, especially as more and more services move online. If you can help, please do by volunteering as a Digital Champion.”

Enrol as a Digital Champion at www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/superfast or call on 01305 221048 and you’ll be invited to an induction session to give you some training.