Last Monday I was delighted to join the SCVO Digital team in a new role as Digital Participation Officer. I received a warm welcome from my new team members and have been enjoying getting to know everyone over the last week.

I have joined the team following six years in employability, working mainly in the private sector, supporting the people farthest removed from the job market in to sustainable employment. Many of my clients were living beneath the poverty line and were affected by social barriers such as mental health issues, homelessness and addictions. These clients were often lacking in skills to enter or re-join the workforce and often one of the main barriers they faced was a lack of Essential Digital Skills.

This meant they were unable to apply for jobs, create CVs and cover letters, update DWP systems to ensure they received their benefits, manage their finances using online banking or save money by comparing utility providers online.

During this time I witnessed first-hand the anxiety and stress caused by welfare reform to my clients, especially around moving benefit services online and the introduction of Universal Credit. This frustration inspired to me to begin designing and delivering ‘Digital Clinics’ directly to my clients in either a one-to-one or group setting to try and improve their skills and relieve some of the pressure they were under. These clinics tackled a variety of subjects such as uploading a CV on to Universal Jobmatch, creating a Universal Credit account, completing online job applications and applying online for benefits such as Working Tax Credits.

Having seen the impact these clinics had on my clients, and the positive effect they had on their confidence and self-esteem, it sparked my passion for Digital Inclusion. I truly believe no one in Scotland should not be able to access training to gain Essential Digital Skills or to improve on the skills they already have.

As part of my new role I look forward to generating ideas to tackle Digital Exclusion, particularly by supporting SCVO’s Digital Champions in upskilling themselves, their workforce, volunteers and service users.

I am also excited to be involved in a new pilot project demonstrating the value of our Digital Participation Charter and will be working with organisations to measure the Essential Digital Skills of their workforce. In addition, I will be developing a range of activities and networking events over the coming months to support organisations engaged with SCVO’s Digital Participation work and hope to be able to bring you more news on this in the next few weeks. I am currently working on collating a range of case studies demonstrating some of the fantastic work we do and these will be published on the digital section of the SCVO website.

I will be working on Digital Participation as part of SCVO’s 2020 Digital Strategy, so if you are reading this and feel your organisation could use some support to reach your full digital potential, please get in touch – digital@scvo.org.uk .