In partnership with Tameside and Glossop CCG – September 2020 – May 2023
Improving digital skills in our local community with the help of
volunteer Digital Champions and partner organisations
In 2020 PCrefurb was approached by the Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust to set up a digital literacy project. They recognised that in order to reduce health inequalities and address unwarranted variation in care, digital inclusion was becoming increasingly essential.
The pandemic effect
“the recent Covid -19 outbreak has seen a great deal of traditional social and healthcare transactions moved online. Although this does give us a great deal of opportunity to do things differently moving forwards, there is a risk that we further exacerbate inequalities in our communities that are not 100% digitally literate. For example, this can pose an immediate disadvantage when it comes to accessing NHS services and reliable, fast-changing NHS and government guidance during the crisis.” Tameside & Glossop ICFT
The Digital Wellbeing Project (DWB) began its journey in the throes of the Covid pandemic, between the two major periods of lockdown. This meant that, while we were able to deliver refurbished IT devices to clients, Public Health prohibited working in person, so we were unable to start the digital skills support.
DWB up and running
As Covid restrictions were gradually lifted, we were better able to begin deploying those volunteers that were willing and able to support our clients. We further developed a complete Digital Champion training program, and by the end of the project had trained 85 Digital Champions.
With an increase in referrals, and with additional local funding brought in because of Covid, we appointed a Volunteer Coordinator to support our Digital Champions and recruited two Digital Training Coordinators to work directly with clients, alongside our volunteers.
Digital training was initially delivered through one-to-one sessions. Having their own tutor allowed each client to focus on their own individual needs and their progress could be monitored. One-to-one sessions were also an ideal option for clients who had mobility or mental health issues.
It was becoming most evident around April/May 2022 that we were struggling to meet the need through that delivery strategy. Digital Training Groups were devised to support most people. The training groups helped prevent isolation as we brought together people within the same community. The groups allowed us to deliver to a greater number of people, handle varied abilities as well as giving specific support where needed.
Digital training groups were set up across Ashton, Glossop, Dukinfield, Hattersley and Stalybridge.
The project received 392 referrals through 41 referral partners, delivered 1887 hours of digital skills training, inducted 85 Digital Champion volunteers and provided 197 devices.
In 2022-2023 alone, the project received 210 referrals, delivered 1712 hours of digital skills training, inducted 45 Digital Champion volunteers, and provided 47 devices including those which supported community venues and therefore gave a long-lasting community wide benefit.