Silver Surfers Burnfoot Community Futures

The Gathering 2018

Burnfoot Community Futures

Charity registered in Scotland SC040120

Burnfoot Community Futures (BCF) has two constituted aims:
• to improve the well-being, quality of life and opportunities of the people of Burnfoot
• to enhance the social, cultural, recreational and educational facilities, environment and economy of Burnfoot.
BCF is a charitable company limited by guarantee. It has 9 directors and over 103 members. Whilst the majority of the members are from within Burnfoot some key co-options from neighbouring areas have enhanced the skills of the board. The company operates within the geographical area of Burnfoot in Hawick.
Established in 2006, BCF developed the Burnfoot Local Community Action Plan, and has been focussed on delivering this plan over the last 6 years. In 2016, BCF completed it's first major capital project (circa £1.2m) which culminated in 2017 with the opening of the Burnfoot Community Hub. Within this operates a successful community café, soft play area, function room and meeting spaces.

  • From 1st March 2017 to 28th February 2018
  • Award: £9,964 via Call 4

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Project plan

Project description

The Silver Surfers project aims to support people aged over 50 in Hawick who are not computer literate and are digitally excluded, economically disadvantaged, socially isolated and feel lonely. A weekly informal café based session will provide older people the confidence to drop in with their phones, tablets or other digital medium and receive informal one to one support on a regular weekly basis. After the first 6 months of drop-in provision themed group sessions will be introduced according to individual interests and or needs of the service users i.e. art, family history, cookery, financial planning, benefit, job searching. These session will be supported by input from external agencies, i.e. archive staff, Citizens Advice Bureau, Job Centre, Hub Staff, Community Learning and Development. Through upskilling staff BCF will create a number of digital champions who will be able to assist basic customer queries on an ongoing basis. The project will be delivered by a Digital Skills Trainer, managed by the BCF Manager.

Project milestones

Phase 1

Recruit & Appoint Tutor

Phase 2

Develop Marketing/Advertsing Materials

Phase 3

Commence Drop-in Sesssions

Phase 4

Commence special interest groups



The project offered one to one support, through the delivery of a digital skills drop-in session, an informal and supportive approach was identified as an important factor in the session delivery. Every Friday the Digital Champions and buddies were available to support users get the most from their digital devices – phones, tablets or laptops. Each intervention was geared to the specific user and what they wanted to achieve, or to help them understand difficulties they were having and working with them to resolve it. The project also supported those with no digital capacity, enabling them to develop foundation skills. Individuals were able to borrow a device and make small steps to getting digitally active, this again was tailored to the individual's needs.

The Tea and Tablet support was broadened to target key digital tasks the local community were encountering. By working with Burnfoot Community School targeted work was piloted to help people transact with a range of school based services, apply for school clothing allowance, parent pay – online school meal booking system and also how to book parents night appointments. Opportunities to embed digital skills with parent of the new intake was also piloted – an early coffee and scone session was used as a way to engage and discuss useful apps/games to support learning as well as looking at internet safety and the use of parental controls. Uptake for these specific sessions was poor and not progressed after the initial trial.

In developing our approach, digital skills were also integrated into other sessional delivery. Our digital champion supported a new weight management programme, promoting, showcasing and supporting the use of digital tools – activity trackers, online food diaries, calorie trackers, recipe calculator, weight recording charts, group support and communication, online shopping, synchronization between devices. The group had a diverse age and knowledge base, with all participants gaining knowledge growing their use and confidence in using digital services.

To encourage and motivate some of the older generation who were unaware of the benefit tablets or digital technology could bring to them, outreach taster sessions were provide as a means of introducing the technology and some of the common uses. These were provided by means of pop up sessions within the cafe, through the women's rural groups, and also the older people's activity groups operating within the hub. Through this approach a higher number of participants were reached, albeit skills levels in the main were low and the establishment of foundation skills were required so did not make a significant impact on basic digital skills, However, this did allow signposting to the one to one drop-in sessions where appropriate

We have continued the delivery of our Tea and Tablet project by engaging the elderly community on an informal and flexible basis. Our IT Buddies and Course Tutor have supported in the ongoing technical support and development of the participants through a variety of different techniques and learning styles.
Session delivery has been tailored to the needs of the participants who attend each session and any difficulties that they have faced on a daily basis.

The project start has been delayed, publicity materials have been produced, a tutor has been appointed. Working in partnership with Scottish Borders Council, we were seeking to recruit young people to assist the delivery however this was not achieved due school exams, subsequent attempts to recruit young people who were engaged in activity agreements also failed. We have now openly recruited young people, our IT buddies have training session scheduled to be held on 27th July, with sessions going live from 3rd August 2017.

Our IT Buddies and Course Tutor have began to deliver weekly open sessions to the community, these are based in the Burnfoot Community Hub café on a weekly basis. We have received a large mix of participants some of whom have attended multiple weeks in a row. By delivering the project on an open drop in basis this has increased the attendance and community awareness of the project. We have been able to engage with the elderly community and support them with a wide range of technical difficulties they have experienced, expanding their knowledge skills and technical abilities.

Our digital work is delivered in partnership with: