Camphill Blair Drummond
Charity registered in Scotland SC001917
Camphill Blair Drummond enables some of the most vulnerable and socially isolated adults in society to live happy, meaningful lives. Established over 40 years ago, we aim to provide a mutually supportive and purposeful community life for people with learning disabilities where everyone has the opportunity to fulfil their true potential. Our community has grown and changed greatly over the past 10 ten years. We have been able to substantially increase and improve our provision through capital investment in therapeutic workshops and homes for shared living. 45 residents and 52 day students participate in a wide variety of activities, mainly traditional hand and land crafts. Employees and volunteers increase the size of our community to almost 300 members. Our ethos of living, working and growing together is at the heart of our community and all that we do.
- From 1st December 2017 to 31st December 2018
- Award: £10,000 via Call 5
The funding would be used to purchase equipment including computers, tablets and a smartboard to furnish a multi-purpose computer suite with access for all members of our community. The ongoing use of the facility would be embedded into our current provision and funded through existing revenue streams.
This project will provide the facilities we need to support individuals to develop these skills and connect with the wider world. Our ethos involves encouraging people to participate in community life and reach their full potential.
Digital champions will be recruited from existing employees and volunteers, and will use Learn My Way resources to ensure they have the necessary skills going forward. These champions will support those without the basic skills to acquire them during daily and specific activities.
The suite would be used by regular, occasional groups and individuals for learning and social activities. This facility will allow us to start weekly classes for groups on subjects such as basic computing, adult literacy and healthy eating. Basic digital skills as outlined in the Go ON UK framework will be taught as part of ASDAN Computing Skills classes, allowing formal recognition of achievements.
25 Digital Champions recruited and trained using Learn My Way resources. Baseline information gathered including survey of current digital participation and basic skills questionnaire.
Installation of equipment into refurbished Go On Learning Zone
Go On Learning Zone opened for community use. ASDAN Computing skills course commenced with first 8-10 residents and day students.
ASDAN Computing skills qualification completed by first 8-10 residents and day students. End of project information gathered and final report prepared.
Following the installation of our new IT equipment into the Go-On Learning Zone we decided to opt for a 'soft' launch of the facilities. The first group to be invited to explore the facilities were the communities' senior management team who spent the morning engaging in games and activities using the I-pads and smartboard. This not only gave our senior leaders a welcome break from their usual duties but helped them to see the potential benefits that the equipment would bring to all members of our community and help secure management backing for the project.
During the last two weeks in April we invited different workshop groups to 'come and try' sessions where residents, day students, volunteers and staff could see and use the equipment and talk about how it could be used to enhance their existing activities.
One Resident from garden workshop said "I think it will be good for making posters, chilling out and doing work. We will benefit from using the computers for helping with the work. I think the room is brilliant, never had such good quality equipment to use"
Textiles workshop group spent their session using the smartboard to look at project ideas on Pinterest. Usually the workshop leader would look for ideas and print these out to show the group. Using the smartboard allowed everyone to participate in choosing the things they wanted to make.
During these initial visits using the I-pads to listen to favourite music has been the most popular activity. One day student enjoyed signing along with a Makaton choir on u-tube and has since been demonstrating these signs to other community members.
The suite has also became home to our newly established Visualeyez group led by Gyongyi one of our support workers and a qualified graphic designer. This group meets every Friday afternoon and their aim is to explore and experience various forms of visual communication. So far they have been using the I-pads to take photos which they have edited using simple apps. Once they become more familiar with the equipment and develop their digital skills, it is hoped that this group will be involved in designing and producing posters, newsletters and labels for our home-made produce.
Due to the unusually warm and sunny weather in May and June fewer residents and day students have made use of the IT equipment than we would have hoped. Most preferring to spend their time outdoors while they can. This being Scotland we are confident that rain will come soon and that residents and day students will be keen to come inside and enjoy using the room.
We have seen an increase in the use of the IT equipment over the last 3 months with a number of regular groups making use of the facilities. Due to its popularity and contribution to community life we have increased the Visualeyez sessions to three per week. In these sessions residents and day students are supported to participate in graphic design projects and activities.
One project involved producing commemorative photograph albums for participants of the summer gathering which brings together residents from Camphill communities throughout Scotland. The group were able to collect photographs from attendees via email. They used basic apps and programs to edit and store the photographs, ordered prints online and generated captions for the photographs using word. They then used traditional crafting techniques to produce the finished keepsake memory albums.
Another project involved producing a weekly easy read, picture supported weekly diary sheet for community members. This outlines main activities, events and birthdays within the community. Traditionally the diary has been produced by the admin team and relies on understanding of the written word. To make this more accessible to residents and day students who have communication difficulties the group decided to use more photos and symbols. Once they had produced a template in word, they used google to find appropriate symbols and pictures to include in the document which is now distributed throughout the community.
Whilst we have found that some of the residents and day students have experience of using digital to access games and YouTube videos many have less experience of other uses of digital. Using digital as part of interesting and creative projects we have been able to introduce them to a wider variety of uses of digital technology.
The funding was used to purchase IT equipment including computers and I-pads to furnish a dedicated learning suite that would be primarily used by the communities' residents and day students (service users). Up until this point there had been little opportunity to use digital skills within the activities our community offers due to lack of equipment.
At Camphill Blair Drummond we have a range of hand and land craft based workshops, gardening, textiles, bakery, pottery etc., which aims to provide people with learning disabilities the opportunity to participate in meaningful activities and develop skills. Initially the project was set-up and existing workshops were invited to use the room to extend and compliment their activities. There was however very limited uptake on this, partly due to the great summer weather when nobody wanted to be inside. We also asked residents and day students if they wanted to complete an ASDAN qualification in computing but again there was very little interest.
Gyongyi one of our digital champions, support worker and qualified graphic designer developed the idea of using the room and equipment to create a new workshop visualeyez. In this workshop people would be involved in taking and editing photographs, making packaging for the produce from the workshops, making posters and a variety of other projects that would combine traditional craft methods and digital. This meant that people were focussed on doing activities that they enjoyed and were able to pick up digital skills along the way. We now have 3 permanent ½ day workshops a week involving 12 regular participants alongside support staff and volunteers.
Although we have tracked and monitored the skills being used using the basic skills framework under categories of managing information, communicating, transacting, problem-solving and creating. For most of the people we support the level at which we are working aligns more to foundation skills in The Essential Digital Skills Framework. Some needed to be supported to learn how to turn on the devices, how to use a touch-screen, mouse or keyboard. Help to use search engines, how to download images, how to find things that interest them. For the people involved in the project learning new skills can take some time and a lot of practice. Therefore being able to walk into the room, pick up an I-pad and find you-tube independently is a great step forward in developing digital skills and being able to use technology to enhance quality of life.
We have been most successful in supporting people in the areas of managing information and creating and least successful in terms of communicating and transacting. The most successful areas are ones which most closely align to the existing service provision and feel safe to engage with. E.G., we use photographs throughout the community to record events and promote communication through non-verbal methods, it was relatively easy to extend this to use digital methods. Likewise we provide a wide range of creative workshops so the transition to using digital creative methods was relatively straightforward.
The main aim of this first phase of the project was to identify and equip the room to be used for the Go-On Learning Zone. The room in day services is within the mansion house which is at the centre of our community. Furniture including desks, chairs, tables and sofa have either been purchased or donated from other areas in the community. As we want to embed the use of technology and digital skills within our everyday activities, our aim is to create a comfortable, welcoming multi-purpose space that will meet the needs of individuals and groups from across our community. Some minor decoration and lighting work has still to be finished but overall the room is starting to take shape.
The funding granted was to be wholly used to purchase IT equipment for the room and the community has provided the interim funds to allow installation at the start of the project. We now have WIFI installed in the room, four new desktop computers and four new iPads. We have had some issues regarding the supply of the interactive smartboard but are expecting this in the next two weeks.
The room is just about ready to be opened for use and we are now planning the best way to launch it within the community in a way that provides maximum impact. Initial thoughts are to invite small groups to introductory sessions before regular use starts. These sessions will introduce them to the equipment with support from our digital champions and will provide inspiration on how the room can be used. This will allow us to get up and running immediately following our official opening celebration.
In our original plan we had intended to train 25 digital champions internally using online resources however as part of the project we were able to access a day's digital champion training provided by Irene from Mhor Collective. We felt that this would be a better route to take as all the digital champions would be able to access the DC Network which provided excellent resources and support for the project going forward. As this involved a full-days classroom training we decided that 12 Digital Champions would be a more reasonable amount. Four employees and eight of our young international volunteers participated in what was a very informative and enjoyable day. They are now able to access bite-sized online training about a variety of topics and have got lots of ideas about how they can support digital participation by our residents and day students.