Fife Migrants Forum
Charity registered in Scotland SC043053
- From 16th November 2015 to 31st May 2016
- Award: £10,879 via Call 3
You can do IT - IT training & mentoring support project aims at empowering and upskilling clients to become more independent in using new technologies. The project will be a part of our weekly Job Club for clients referred by the Jobcentre Plus and for all other clients that require help with employability. Additionally we will offer one-to-one support sessions helping clients to gain skills such as: online application forms, email, typing, using help available online such as online translating tools.
One-to-one sessions will cover:
• Introduce and enhance IT skills - to be able to use the internet
• Establish and map relevant skills motivation - knowing the reasons why using the internet is a good thing
• Build awareness and confidence trust - a fear of online fraud, or not knowing where to start to go online.
Job Club sessions
Our training programme will be structured to deliver 8 training sessions to each participant over 2 months. On average, we accommodate 4 clients per session. We also take into account that some clients will need more flexible approach and more sessions will be available for clients needing extra support.
- We will run 2 hour long sessions a week initially then add 2 more as the numbers increase. The sessions’ timings will change to reflect clients’ needs.
- We will recruit and pay a sessional worker to deliver the training to both learners and mentors.
- We will be running a mentoring programme alongside the IT sessions to recruit learning mentors from our volunteers in the first place, and then open it up to all to plug any gaps in our language provision to match the needs of our clients.
- We will be paying for administrative costs, cost of learner packs with additional information, marketing and promotion costs, and running costs such as paper/ink, etc.
- We will be purchasing 5 new laptops and we already have secured software licences for the latest Microsoft Office package from TT-exchange.
Free IT Clinic at Fife Migrants Forum was opened every Wednesday and welcomed clients with all aspects of digital inquires. Our regular sessions provided migrant’s community with opportunities to learn or improve their existing IT skills. The digital engagement work offered by Fife Migrants Forum, allowed us to explore and understand the essential need for this type of work. Our group as well as one-to-one sessions provided by our caseworkers on a daily basis had a significant impact on participants’ abilities to communicate, search information, and seek employment opportunities online.
The clinic was kindly funded and supported by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, ASDA Foundation Scotland, Greener Kirkcaldy, Big Lottery Support & Connect Fund. This report covers the digital education work carried out by Fife Migrants Forum October 2015 - May 2016 and continuing until October 2016 as a result of the extension.
Our free IT workshops began in October 2015. With significant support of our local volunteers, we began our group sessions on Monday afternoons. In order to raise awareness of the classes, we designed and distributed marketing materials locally as well as online. A special Facebook event was created in order to promote our services.
The initial workshops provided us with an opportunity to investigate and identify the digital needs of our community. In order to learn more about participants’ skills, we had invited them to complete surveys, which focused on SCVO Basic Digital Skills framework. Our questions covered the topics of managing information, communication, online transactions and digital creation. The outcome of the surveys outlined the following problem areas:
Online Safety: 80% of surveyed would like to improve their knowledge in this area
Searching information online: over 70% of respondents would like to improve their knowledge
Online communication: 69% of respondents would like to improve their skills and knowledge in this area. Many of our participants struggled with basic email functions. Some mentioned Skype as one of the things they would like to learn.
Digital creation: 95% of our participants stated that they would like to gain skills in this area. In particular, learning about word processing and CV creation were outlined as the most the most useful skills.
Being able to apply for jobs and writing a CV were outlined as the most important aspects for most of our participants. Therefore our group sessions were particularly dedicated to these aspects of digital communication. Our volunteers helped us to run the sessions, by supporting participants in the digital tasks as well as language support.
Group workshop challenges
Our weekly group session were attended by 6-7 people. The majority of participants were from Eastern Europe and preferred using their native language during the classes. Among the people who joined the workshop were mainly Poles, Bulgarians and Slovaks. Most of the time we were able to explain the tasks by communicating in English and Polish. However the software used during the classes was in English, which meant we had to take extra time to translate instructions step by step. Our volunteers helped us by designing educational posters and materials for our participants, these were distributed during the sessions. The materials covered various aspects of our work, covering online safety, strong password and CV structure.
Furthermore, in order to address individual needs of our participants, we decided to begin working on a one-to-one basis and set up The Free IT Clinic.
December 2015 - August 2016
In December, we began promoting our one-to-one digital skills sessions as IT Clinic. The clinic was available for our clients on a weekly basis. During the sessions, we had conversations with the participants about their skills and aspirations. Our learning objectives varied from setting up emails to exploring free photo editing tools. In order to explore the diverse nature of our work, we decided to present several case studies below.
Case study 1: Digital Skills for employability
Among many of our individuals who participated in our IT clinic, was Client 1. The client first visited us in January 2016 and described his digital skills as “poor”. In our initial questionnaire, he pointed out that his digital knowledge is very limited and that he would like to learn about using his email, documents processing and online search in order to improve his chances of getting a suitable employment. Over the course of 8 weeks, we introduced him to the basic computer operations such switching on the PC, finding and operating web browsers, safely logging out. Client 1 was very interested in the basic digital skills and very keen to learn more. As the sessions progressed, he was able to set up, access and compose emails. Client 1 is a very studious individual and thanks to his regular attendance and careful notes, he was able to improve his skills very quickly. In the final sessions, Client 1 was able to confidently check his emails and search for employment opportunities online. Furthermore, Client 1 independently visited a local library, where he was able to test and use his acquired digital skills.
Our IT Cafe practitioner noted a huge improvement in client’s confidence and online problem solving. As a result of our session, he is now able to support other less confident digital users. Furthermore, he is now regularly exchanging emails with the potential employers and is very keen to use the internet in order to seek employment. In the final weeks of our sessions, Client 1 successfully found job online and started his work shortly after.
Case study 2: Embedding Digital Skills into everyday tasks
Client’s 2 motivation to join the clinic was to improve her already existing basic IT skills. She was very keen to organise her work digitally and to learn how to confidently communicate online. Due to being a carer for her son, she had only limited time to explore the digital world. Our plan for the weekly sessions was to revise client’s email skills and learn Excel. At first client’s attitude was quite sceptical and she was finding it difficult to navigate online. However after several 1:1 support sessions, the client gain an interest in digital tools and started exploring them at home as well as at Fife Migrants Forum. Being able to use technology to plan tasks or home budget was a key element of client’s 2 work. The client is now effectively using this tools at home and is keen to develop her digital skills further.
Case study 3: Digital skills for effective communication
Client 3 came to talk to us about his issues with his email in December 2015. Our initial consultation outlined Client’s frustrations and “digital fears”. Client 3 was very sceptical and believed that “the technology just wasn’t not for him”. During our regular weekly sessions, we slowly worked through emails and guided the client how to navigate in his inbox. Over the weeks, we had noticed a huge progress in client’s skills, within 4 weeks of hourly lessons, he was able to receive and create emails. Furthermore, Client 3 was very interested in using Skype as this would allow him to stay in touch with his friends and relatives in Poland.
Case study 4: Digital Training for project volunteers
Our project volunteers were also provided with additional digital training when supporting the coordination of IT Clinic and our weekly sessions. One of our volunteers, was referred to us by a local employability organisation. The young volunteer was diagnosed with a mild form of autism and was seeking additional experience to add to his CV. Our digital outreach work was a perfect opportunity for him to gain some extra admin and digital work experience.
The administrative work for the project was all managed and saved online. Dealing with “cloud based” system was a new learning experience for him. During his time at Fife Migrants Forum, he was also able to explore digital marketing and graphic design tools. Our young volunteer designed and proofread our educational materials. In his final evaluation completed, the volunteer highlighted the digital aspects of his work as the most interesting. We believe that our digital training provided the volunteers with a unique, hands on experience.
Project Evaluation until 24/08/2016
As a result of the Digital Challenge Fund, we were able to organise 30 group workshops and 62 one-to-one sessions. We had 78 people benefiting from the training. In particular, our IT Clinic provided us with a perfect environment to research and map the digital needs of our clients. Furthermore, having a flexible approach also helped us to adjust our workshops to individual needs of the participants, which had a particularly positive impact on the work we were delivering. Below we would like to reflect on some of the key deliveries of our digital work:
Adjusting workshops timetable according to participants’ needs
We began working with a group format sessions, where we dealt with a larger number of people simultaneously. These workshops were particularly successful when mapping the digital needs of our clients. However, our facilitators had difficulties when addressing everyone’s needs during the sessions, as most of the workshop attendants required not only IT guidance but also language support. Working on an English version of the software proved to be difficult for some of them. Our volunteers and project facilitator were providing our clients with the support and guidance in order to address these needs, however it was clear that some of the participants would benefit from individual sessions. Although we received a very positive feedback from the sessions, we decided that running one-to-one sessions was the way to go forward. The overall feedback from the sessions was very positive and noticed that some of the clients really benefited from the group workshop and most of the signed up for the individual digital support sessions at the IT Clinic.
We began working with our clients on an individual basis as a part of IT Clinic, which took place at Fife Migrants Forum every Wednesday. They could book their appointments at our office, over the phone or online via Facebook or email. As the sessions progressed, we decided to change our slots from 2 hours to 1 hour. We learned that the individual sessions worked better when delivered in 60 minutes. Many of our participants were overwhelmed with the amount of information and preferred shorter workshops. In order to understand participants’ needs, we would ask our clients to complete a Google Form survey. The initial check-up provided us with some essential information to discuss the learning aims and objectives. Our digital survey was always the first exercise during the session, which also allowed us to practically observe and assess the digital skills of our clients. Our surveys also allowed us to track individual progress and evaluate the quality of our work at the end of the learning experience. Having this recorder was not only beneficial for us but also participants, as it allowed us to reflect on the improvements that occurred during the process.
In order to evaluate our digital educational work, we asked our clients to complete simple feedback forms. The forms outlined the most important aspects of the workshops:
• Having a full attention of the teacher
• Being able to take time to learn and revise material on a weekly basis
• Having a Polish tutor, who was able to explain English commands
• Having access to the equipment and the Internet
Apart from written surveys, we also interviewed our clients both off and on camera.
Bilingual Digital Worker
We recruited a seasonal Digital Worker in order to coordinate the group workshops and individual sessions. Additionally, we had significant support from our volunteers, who helped run the sessions as well as providing additional administrative support. Due to the nature of our work with the migrants’ community, it was essential to work with an English/Polish speaking teacher. Many of our clients have basic to intermediate language skills and being able to explain digital terminology in their native tongue really improves the educational process. Additionally, many of our participants outlined having the workshop in two languages helped them to not only learn about the technology but also improve their overall communication skills.
As previously mentioned in this report, over 95% of our clients stated that improving their employability skills was a key aspect of their digital education. We noted that our participants were interested in CV creation, using Microsoft Office packages and online job search. We addressed these needs in our group workshops, individual IT and Job Club sessions. Fife Migrants Forum clients significantly benefited from this particular aspect of our digital work.
Over 70% of our participants learned how to create a CV and email potential employers. Moreover, some of the individuals who regularly attended the IT clinic are now informally supporting their networks in this area and are considered “digital experts” among their friends and co-workers.
Reducing social isolation & boosting confidence
Our regular meetings not only provided the clients with new technical skills but also encouraged them to socialize outside their home and work environment. Nearly 65% of our clients indicated that social isolation is a big issue for them, due to the lack of sufficient communication skills, caring responsibilities or limited funds. Our regular sessions gave our clients simply “something to do”. For many, going back into education was a quite empowering experience. Some of our participants initially believed that “it’s too late” for them to learn new skills, only to surprise themselves as to how quickly they grasped basic concepts of technology. The experience of learning something new and achieving goals was definitely a huge confidence booster. Furthermore, learning how to communicate online via email, Skype and being able to share information (images) with the families abroad, was a great way to tackle their social isolation.
Communication Skills - online & offline
Our sessions aimed to primarily focus on digital skills and online communication. Indeed our tutors delivered education guidance in this area by introducing our clients to emails, Skype and other online communication tools. This definitely improved participants’ digital communication abilities. However, we did not expect to have such a big impact on language and offline communication skills as well. During our bilingual workshops, our clients had an opportunity to improve their English skills by learning new set of vocabulary and using it during the classes. We had a very positive feedback regarding this aspect of the workshops and many of our clients highlighted the language learning aspects in their final feedback.
The aim of the IT workshops was to introduce participants to basic digital skills and discuss their current “digital” knowledge. During our sessions we outlined the importance of online safety and privacy. Many of our clients did not consider these aspects earlier and as a result became victims of SPAM email, adverts, phishing. Our tutors discussed these risks with the clients. As a result our participants became more vigilant and critical of the information they receive online. Furthermore they are now more aware of the digital risks and consider the importance of online privacy.
New Volunteers and Community Digital Leaders
In order to efficiently coordinate our digital education programme, we required additional support from our volunteers. Our helpers also had an opportunity to learn new IT skills during their work with us.
Having bilingual workshop is essential
Individual approach more effective than group setting
Employability skills considered as most important among migrant community.