Good Things Foundation and Lloyds Banking Group have been working together to develop a network of over 25,500 Digital Champions across the bank and provide them with volunteering opportunities at Online Centres nationally to help improve digital skills in their local community.
Lee Nicholson lives in Tynemouth but works in one of Lloyds Banking Group's Edinburgh offices. He was keen to develop his skills as a volunteer after reading information about it on the company intranet.
Lee says: “When I first signed up as a volunteer I wanted to help out in schools, teaching children about what money is, personal current accounts and mortgages but there were few opportunities nearby. I pitched out with some letters but with limited success, so I decided to try something different.”
Programmes like Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint play a huge part in Lee’s day-to-day work. He decided that he’d be well-suited to sharing this type of knowledge with others.
“I’m very tech savvy,” says Lee. “I can use tablet devices and smartphones too. I saw lots of opportunities like that near me on the Lloyds Banking Group intranet, so I got in touch with Lisa Dawson, the Online Centre Manager at Newcastle Libraries.”
Lee did some training with Lisa, where she explained their 'Techie Tea Parties' and provided some advice on how to work with their learners.
Lee says: “Lisa told me that I shouldn’t use language that’s too technical as some of the learners might not understand what I mean. Some of them were in their 60s, 70s or even 80s and had brought really high tech smartphones and tablets, but they knew very little about them.”
Lee taught learners how to do different things online, either in a one-to-one session or in a small tailored class.
He says: “I’ve trained learners how to do simple things like making fonts bigger or making screens brighter, to more advanced things like making calls on FaceTime or setting up and using an email account.
“The idea is that learners come to a session and learn what they need, but what you find is that sometimes they live on their own and they come into the library and just want to have a chat, a coffee and a bit of company at the same time as learning how their device works.”
Lee would definitely recommend volunteering to others, not just colleagues at Lloyds Banking Group, but to anyone looking to get more experience under their belt.
“I think it’s a really great way to develop your skills,” says Lee. “I’ve been trying to get other people on board already because I’m such a huge supporter of this.
“I’m moving on to a new and exciting opportunity at an Online Centre in Blyth. I’m still a Digital Champion and I’m going to be teaching people who may not be as proficient on computers and helping them apply for jobs under Universal JobMatch and supporting them with CV writing.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at Newcastle Libraries and seeing the difference these new skills have made to the people I’ve helped is priceless.”