How a community-based housing provider is embedding Digital Champions

Published by Kate Gallant on

Image: Linstone Housing logo

A visit to Linstone Housing based in Renfrewshire in Scotland gave insight into how Digital Champions can be fully embedded into an organisation, providing support to colleagues as well as customers.

Linstone has a great reputation for working locally in the community, listening to and understanding local needs and finding solutions – mainly through external funding all developed through their 20/20 project.

The small team fully demonstrates the benefits of integrating digital into all that the organisation does. I had the chance to talk with their communities lead, Debs Allan, and heard from four Digital Champions working in different roles.

What stood out for me was the passion and enthusiasm – that being a Digital Champion was about helping your colleagues as much as helping people in the local community.

Some key points were:

Image: Coloured boxes with the key points Opportunities for digital nudges were still developing - we identified new tenant visits as a potential time to discuss digital skills; Internal Digital Champions were consulted about IT/system changes strengthening their ability to help their colleagues; Snapshot week had enabled them to collect data on how many people were being supported. An initial customer survey gave baseline data on levels of digital exclusion; Digital skills are supported through welfare rights & employment services working through local community hubs; Youth work to explore options for a local youth space integrated digital skills such as business use of social media skills; Working in partnership with AbilityNet and local library 'Digiteers' added capacity to the project

Linstone has 1700 local tenants and had trained 20 staff through sessions offered by SCVO (Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) and the Mhor Collective. The project has also accessed Digital Unite’s Digital Champions Network e-learning platform for general and specialist training (to improve knowledge of working with people with specific accessibility needs).

One of the Champions shared their thoughts with us on taking on the role:

“So earlier in the year I took part in the Digital Champion training which I have found very beneficial. I am not the most confident at parting technology knowledge but do feel now more able to help/assist/direct people in a more confident way. The training made me aware that I actually do have more knowledge than I originally thought.”

Quote from an embedded Digital Champion at Linstone Housing

It is great to hear the reflection on how the role has impacted on her own digital skills as well as how she approaches developing the skills of others.

“I think what I have learnt is that any knowledge is valuable and it is how you pass it on that counts. I understand that doing a particular action on a device can be helpful short-term but actually going through the process and understanding what is going on is more beneficial in the long run.”

Quote from an embedded Digital Champion at Linstone Housing

“I am proud to be a Digital Champion and will keep progressing my knowledge and hopefully help many others gain knowledge in the digital world.”

Quote from an embedded Digital Champion at Linstone Housing

Thanks to all at Linstone who hosted my visit. It is always inspiring to see how a community-based housing provider is embracing a digital skills learning culture in a positive way, recognising how they can be proactive, but also how partnership work can support their learning aims.

You can find further information on embedded Digital Champions in the One Digital Knowledge Hub.