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Digital Champions on Hand to Help People Get Online

Written by on 19th July 2016

Adam McGrath

Whether you want to pay your council tax, find a job or apply for benefits, ‘digital champions’ are here to help those who need a hand getting online.

From shopping to paying bills, banking to finding a new house, the internet has changed the way we do things and doing things online is often the only option, or at least the quickest.

However, not everyone has access to a computer, or is comfortable using the internet, and that’s where Lincoln’s digital champions come in.

Based in City Hall, these volunteers help customers of both City of Lincoln Council and JobCentre Plus use the self-serve computers to search and apply for jobs, pay their council tax, claim benefits and much more.

Lincoln resident Adam McGrath has been volunteering for a few months now. He said: With everything moving online now there are a lot of people who are going to get left behind if there aren’t people to help them. If you haven’t grown up with computers or used them regularly, trying to do things online can be quite challenging.

Adam went on to say: “Some people don’t have their own computers at home, but some people do and just aren’t confident using the services. Once they’ve been helped through the process they can see how easy it is and will be able to do it from home next time.”

While helping others search for work, Adam himself is also looking for employment, and hopes his role as a digital champion will help him find a new position.

He said: “I don’t want to sit at home doing nothing and I’m enjoying volunteering – it’s a nice thing to do. It also gives you recent work history, which is better than having a big gap on your CV and shows you are proactive. Not only that, but it helps to maintain skills, such as customer service and IT, so it’s good for your CV.”

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The self-serve computers are available for anyone to use and can be found in the JobCentre Plus area on the first floor of City Hall.

Martin Walmsley, Head of the Shared Revenues and Benefits Service for City of Lincoln and North Kesteven District Councils, said: “People are increasingly wanting to do things online as it’s so much quicker, easier and often cheaper than the alternatives. It’s important we do everything we can to help people get access to a computer and feel confident accessing services that way.

“Computer skills are so important these days, both in our working and personal lives. Digital champions are a great idea because not only do they help others to improve their skills and make their lives easier, but at the same time, by volunteering they are helping themselves.” He added.

“Good digital skills could really increase someone’s chances of finding work and we know of several volunteers who have gone on to find permanent jobs thanks, in part, to their experience volunteering.”

Anyone interested in becoming a digital champion can contact Rob Kay, Benefits Officer, at robert.kay@lincoln.gov.uk or can call 01522 873767.

Places are also available on a free course run by Lincoln College’s Community Education Centre and supported by the city council.

The course is tailored to suit individuals, with tutor support. This offers greater flexibility for learners to work at their own pace and fit the programme around their other commitments.

Nearly a quarter of those who have completed the Digital Skills course through Lincoln College have gone on to get a job within weeks of finishing.

To find out more about opportunities to get online and develop your digital skills visit www.lincoln.gov.uk/ucan