Help someone get online – be a Digital Helper at your local library

Oxfordshire County Council recently launched a campaign to recruit ‘digital helpers’ in libraries to boost the confidence and skills of those who need extra help to get online.

Volunteers able to give up just a few hours a week are being sought at branches across the county to provide one-to-one support for people with little or no experience of using computers or the internet.

The aim of the campaign is to help people:

  • access services online – including council services
  • access employment or training opportunities
  • become more independent
  • reduce isolation

Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Cultural services Lorraine Lindsay-Gale said: “This is a really important campaign which has the potential to transform people’s lives using the power of community support and the friendly, informal environment of our libraries.

“There are many people – not just older people - who have little experience of computers or the internet, or who lack the confidence to access information and services online. Learning new digital skills can open important new doors, including the ability to learn how to use email and search for jobs online, helping improve people’s confidence and employability prospects.”

She added: “You don’t have to be a computer expert to volunteer as a digital helper – you just need to be fairly confident with basic technology and willing to give up a few hours at a time convenient to you. We want to hear from anyone who enjoys working with learners of all ages and has the patience and communication skills to provide some friendly support.”

The role of Digital Helpers includes:

  • delivering regular one-to-one computer help sessions
  • giving advice, encouragement and coaching to beginners, of any age
  • helping customers to navigate the internet and access useful websites
  • helping customers to set up email accounts

To find out more or to sign up as a Digital Helper visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/digitalhelper

Case Study: Peter and Brian

Peter has been going to digital helper sessions for six months at Grove Library, and has developed new skills and confidence which he hopes could lead to new employment opportunities.

He said: “I used to have a job where I didn’t use computers but now we’re in the computer age. The sessions are helping me to learn things, so hopefully I’ll be able to get a job. I didn’t know how to use email at all and Brian has been really supportive. It’s also given me confidence to use my computer by myself without needing someone else there showing me how to do it.”

Digital helper Brian said: “With the move to more and more things going online, some people can perhaps feel digitally isolated. By doing this and encouraging them I can help give them a little bit of confidence to give it a try. It’s two hours a week and it’s easy to fit in. If anyone’s interested in volunteering, I’d say come along and give it a go - most of the questions aren’t that hard!”

To find out more or to sign up as a Digital Helper visit: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/digitalhelper


Peter (left) with digital helper Brian.