Digital Dragons MECOPP (Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project)

MECOPP (Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project)

Charity registered in Scotland SC029700

  • From 16th November 2015 to 16th November 2016
  • Award: £9,940 via Call 3

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Project plan

Project description

The project will be delivered from our offices on Leith Walk and will work with 60 older BME people. 40 beneficiaries will be people of Chinese origin and 20 will be of South Asian origin who will initially receive five, two-hourly training sessions covering introductory IT skills/computer awareness training. Of those, half (20 and 10 respectively) will progress to a three week advanced course to build on the skills and knowledge they have received through the course. Courses will take the following format:

Four introductory courses will be provided for Chinese people offering ten training places per course. Each course will consist of five x two hour training sessions covering the basics of IT knowledge. The tutor:beneficiary ratio for these courses will be 2:10 and tutors will be bi-lingual. Following on there will be two advanced courses, each offering ten places which will run for two hours for three weeks.

Provision for the South Asian community will follow the same format but with smaller class sizes (five places) with one tutor per class (ratio of 1:5). Due to the cultural needs of this group, single-gender classes will be on offer and will be delivered on a gender basis by bi-lingual tutors.

The project will be delivered by bilingual trainers based on the needs of two culturally and linguistically diverse communities. As a result of each groups’ specific needs, development and delivery will be based on the concept of cultural competence. As such, the project’s success will depend on the knowledge held within the organisation and by training staff, with whom we have worked before.

As previously stated, this is an innovative project and will be the only one of its kind which delivers training to older and elderly minority ethnic people in their native tongues while at the same time considering their cultural needs. Within Edinburgh and the Lothians there are a number of organisations which work with Chinese and South Asian people but MECOPP is the only organisation in Scotland that works with older and elderly minority ethnic carers. Similarly, there are various organisations that deliver IT training to different sections of the minority ethnic community but these are aimed at other specific target groups, for example, younger South Asian people, Sikh women only, women only, etc. This project would be unique in that it would work with two culturally diverse groups of older and elderly people to provide bespoke IT skills training, delivered in the clients’ first language.

Project costs include the purchase of ten transformer books (these offer the functionality of a laptop and the practicality and mobility of a tablet) and also the purchase of ten Chinese writing tablets. These allow people to write Chinese symbols which are then uploaded to a pc/laptop/tablet.



Planned outputs and outcomes:
• Improved IT skills and knowledge
• Reduced fear of new technology
• Improved ability to source goods and services online
• Improved mental wellbeing as a result of being better connected to friends and family

Of the above beneficiaries, 32 completed self-evaluation forms, the results of which are set out below:
32 agreed that their confidence in using IT had increased since participating in the training;
Of these 20 reported a significant improvement in confidence levels and 12 a moderate improvement;
32 agreed that the skills they learnt would be used for one or more of the above outcomes;
32 agreed that the bi-lingual tutor had significantly enhanced their learning;
32 agreed that the level and content of the tuition was suitable to their learning requirements; and,
32 expressed a desire for more IT learning opportunities.

Examples of how the learning has been utilised include:
Social media groups (WhatsApp & WeChat) established between participants as means of peer support, sharing of advice and information and social contact;
Use of Facebook and Skype to maintain contact with the wider family and in particular, family members living overseas;
Booking of appointments online
Sourcing of information (in community languages) via websites;
Payment of bills (with support from family members) online; and,
Posting of photos on Facebook.

Participants also commented that attending the classes helped to reduce social isolation as contacts were maintained via the social media groups and that they felt they had more in common with their grandchildren as they were able to share with them what they had learnt. One participant commented that it was the first time she had received any form of educational certificate and how proud she felt.

Overall project delivery was delayed due to office relocation which, in turn, led to a number of practical ‘challenges’. We took an internal decision to provide the training to the Chinese community initially as the greatest level of interest was with this group. This was borne out by how quickly the places were filled and the waiting list we had to instigate. However, the lack of a suitably sized training/meeting room in our new offices impacted on the number of classes we had to arrange to meet the target. The space available within our new premises meant that learning groups had to be smaller than originally anticipated due to space constraints. A greater number of classes meant that they took longer to organise, deliver and evaluate.

We organised a graduation ceremony for the participants at the end of the course.

Lessons learned:
The key lesson that the project underlined was the value placed on having a bi-lingual tutor and access to bi-lingual software, i.e. the Chinese writing tablets, as they greatly enhanced the learning outcomes for individuals. As a result of this and based on the evaluation feedback received, MECOPP have committed to looking for additional funding to continue the IT classes and to provide a weekly IT drop-in. Comments made refer to the need to embed, sustain and support learning over a longer period of time as learning can be lost if you do not have an opportunity to consolidate and develop it.

We have also received requests from Chinese older people in West Lothian to deliver IT classes in that local authority area which we are also exploring.

We also asked participants ‘why did they choose to participate in the classes’ and the key message was the trust and relationships they had built up with existing MECOPP staff.

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