Midlothian Financial Inclusion Network
Charity registered in Scotland SC035964
Midlothian Financial Inclusion Network (MFIN) is a network agency of all the agencies currently active in welfare advice/ financial inclusion in Midlothian. Our members include the CABx, Midlothian TSI, Midlothian Council, DWP and many local advice agencies. This application is in partnership with Volunteer Midlothian, which has run a range of volunteer-led IT support in Midlothian libraries since 2012. We previously worked together on a Digital Hub project in Gorebridge Library. Volunteer Midlothian’s Connect Online helps older adults get online has been running for 5+ years, with multiple groups in libraries community centres, sheltered housing. Partnerships include 1-2-1s in libraries, Castle Rock Edinvar housing delivering sessions at their Midlothian sheltered housing, previous work with DWP/Job Centres and libraries helping jobseekers create CVs and do online job applications, jobseeker sessions for Melville Housing at the Corn Exchange in Dalkeith. We worked with around 40 volunteers and around 200 learners each year.
- From 1st October 2018 to 30th June 2019
- Award: £9,052 via Call 6
WHO: We will increase digital skills by recruiting additional volunteers to allow us to run dedicated sessions, and upskilling people working in welfare rights. Our key group would be jobseekers, people looking to change jobs or get careers advice by using online. Help would be available to anyone and there are particular groups such as the over 50s who would benefit. We would target working age individuals looking to make their money go further by making use of the internet to use services to maximise income and reduce spending.
RUN BY: There would be a paid organiser who would work with volunteers to deliver the service. We will recruit volunteers who are experienced in using the Internet and digital technologies and who are able to pass on their knowledge to others. We would provide training and support in areas they may not be familiar with, such as Universal Credit. On past projects working with jobseekers we have had volunteers who were unemployed and whose volunteering helped them gain employment. A few of our young volunteers are on the autistic spectrum. Volunteering is valuable life experience for them. We also have volunteers who are retired/semi-retired IT professionals with a wealth of experience.
ACTIVITIES: Propose to run workshops/drop in sessions on a weekly in Mayfield and Dalkeith (both areas of high deprivation) 1-1 sessions in libraries, and 1-1s with the help of skilled volunteers. Activities will include CV building, online jobsearching including DWP’s Find a Job site, volunteering opportunities, applications for training and apprenticeships, practice interviews using tech e.g. Skype, phone. Workshops will include using price comparison sites, switching sites, vouchers, freecycle/facebook selling and signposting to CAB, Vocal, Changeworks.
DEVICES: We encourage learners to bring their own devices (including smartphones) if they have them. For other users we have iPads/laptops/chromebook/android tablets.
Volunteer recruitment /training September 2018
2 drop in sessions at different venues beginning October 2018
1-1s starting November 2018 in any of the Midlothian libraries
Awareness raising and training with MFIN staff begins
The Work IT Out project aimed to increase digital skills by recruiting extra volunteers to allow us to run dedicated sessions and upskilling people working in welfare rights.
Update to October 2019
The project came to an end in September 2019 but the legacy of it is that we continue to run two weekly drop in computer sessions at Grassy Riggs and Newbattle Community Campus, making use of the Android tablets purchased by the project and to work with the volunteers recruited.
The organisations trained in two Google Garage Digital Skills sessions will continue to make use of the information and online courses from Google.
RBS presented on Financial Scams Awareness and Changeworks presented on saving money by energy switching/keeping homes warm to our volunteers and we will be arranging further sessions for our other digital skills groups as these sessions were free.
The visit to the 'Smart Home' to see the use of technology to automate the home for assisted living has resulted in us partnering with one of our venues, Rosewell Development Trust to apply for funding to create a 'smart room' in the hub which is being built and where the digital skills group will eventually be located.
September 2018 - Delivered introductory session for 5 new volunteers to show them the new venue at Newbattle Community Campus, which has state of the art digital facilities, the volunteers were also encouraged to offer their ideas and suggestions for the progress of the project. One volunteer offered his services to create promotional material.
October 2018 - Booked weekly sessions in Grassy Riggs, Woodburn and Newbattle Campus, Mayfield.
November 2018 - Distributed information on project and sessions to MFIN network for third sector organisations, also sent out copies of posters adverting the two sessions.
December 2018 - Created a digital skills questionnaire on jotform to allow new learner answers to be entered and stored digitally. https://form.jotformeu.com/83243504971356
December 2018 - Changeworks delivered a session at Grassy Riggs to show learners how to save money on their energy bills.
January 2019 - Presentations on project/sessions delivered to Job Centres in Dalkeith and Penicuik to generate project referrals from work coaches.
January 2019 - Google Digital Garage training day organised for 22nd January in Dalkeith to deliver digital training to 40+ Midlothian and Edinburgh based third sector staff.
We organised a Digital Training Day hosted by Google Digital Garage on 22 January which had 30+ attendees representing 20+ local third sector organisations.
There were three sessions covering Social Media Strategy, Answering Questions with Data and Presentations for Work, and the day received very good feedback from attendees:
'Very informative and useful with lots of knowledge and skills to take away'
'I would be keen to attend future digital training related courses. Today's speaker presented the information very well, thoroughly enjoyed it'
'interesting, relevant and well presented'
We also organised a session on 26 March on financial scams awareness presented by RBS, 'Friends Against Scams'. This was attended by staff who work with older people and volunteers on our digital skills projects who were able to pass the information on to learners attending our group sessions.
'Thanks for organising the course today. It was very enjoyable – more things like that would be good!'
Weekly sessions have continued to run at Grassy Riggs and Newbattle Campus and attendance is picking up since promoting the sessions more within the community. Posters and flyers were distributed at a local community café to spread the word as well as put up in local shops and public areas. There are now three volunteers assisting at the sessions.
We have purchased two android tablets to use during the sessions in addition to our existing iPads, laptops and chromebook. After trying out our devices several learners have purchased their own or been given them by family members, low-cost android tablets, in particular, are a popular choice as they are an affordable way to get online on a limited budget.
We continued to show learners at our weekly classes how using their digital devices and online services could help them save money on utilities and other household bills and we were able to help several learners do just that.
We held a second Google Garage training session in May 2019, again well attended by staff and volunteers from local charities (approx. 20). The topics this time were Writing for Social Media, Introduction to Digital Marketing, Get your organisation visible on Google.
In June as part of Volunteers Week 2019 'The Big Thank You' event was held at the National Mining Museum Scotland and volunteers from this project were invited to go along and enjoy a free buffet, raffle and tours of the museum.
And in August 2019 we had a final thank you event for volunteers who had supported the project. We visited the 'Smart Home' at Longstone Resource Centre, Edinburgh. This was very interesting and informative and showed how technology such as smart speakers could be integrated into home tech using smart plugs and smart lights as well as entertainment systems.