This year our Digital Participation Charter Fund had an incredible level of interest and the standards were very high. With a limited amount of funding it’s always disappointing not to be able to invest in everyone. Fortunately, as part of our involvement in the One Digital* programme we had a small pot of money to invest in digital inclusion projects in Scotland, which we’ve called ‘Investing in Success’.

The Digital Participation Charter Fund had significant interest from football foundations this year. This was particularly encouraging as we’ve seen great work around digital inclusion from similar projects. Big Hearts Community Trust received Digital Participation Charter funding in 2018 for their ‘Go Digital’ project. Blogging on their project, Craig Wilson from Big Hearts explained how they were embedding digital skills in their Kinship Carer Group and Football Memories participants to build their digital confidence and equip themselves with skills to use digital mediums:

“We have been bringing digital innovation into our Football Memories sessions, to encourage participants to become more familiar with browsing and searching for images and content relevant to the sessions. For example, finding images of Hearts FC team photos from the 1960’s, or old stadiums. Volunteers are on hand to help participants use the iPads to get them comfortable.”

The interest from multiple football foundations presented a real opportunity to build on the success of the work undertaken by Big Hearts. A huge part of what we do in the Digital Team at SCVO is sharing learning to support the voluntary sector, so we brought the funded organisations together for a learning event, hosted by Big Hearts. We were joined by Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust, Kilmarnock Community Sports Trust and West Lothian Youth Foundation, to think about how Essential Digital Skills can be embedded in their ongoing work in their local communities.

The learning session threw up a really interesting reflection for me. Big Hearts started a ‘Football Memories’ group by using digital to find old images and videos relating to the club. As part of this group they used Google Street View, which uncovered an appetite for the group members to explore Edinburgh virtually and reminisce about buildings and areas which they maybe haven’t seen in a long time. This was the inception of a new group – ‘Edinburgh Memories’. It’s easy forget that some of the digital tools we use every day can serve a greater purpose than what we use them for. In this case, Street View allowed a group of older people to connect with places and share memories together. This is what we refer to as a ‘hook’ for getting people online.

Our ‘Investing in Success’ projects gave us some thoughts on why digital inclusion is important to them and what they plan to do with the funding:

Why is digital inclusion important to your organisation?

“Digital inclusion is important to our organisation because we have a huge reach within our local communities, and we want to be able to communicate with a variety of different groups. Digital skills do not come naturally to everyone and with the internet and social media being such big communication platforms today, it is important that we can interact with people this way.”

Andrew Todd, General Manager, West Lothian Youth Foundation

“We believe that digital inclusion is important as it will help us enhance access to our programmes and resources and increase local awareness of what we do and the groups we work with.”

Nicola Graham, Community Projects Officer, Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust

What are you planning to do with the funding?

“We are planning to run a 6-month programme to help develop basic digital competencies among some of the older members of our communities. This will have a very positive impact on their lives and will open up a lot of new avenues for them that they previously wouldn’t have had the skills to access.”

Andrew Todd, General Manager, West Lothian Youth Foundation

“We will be using the funding to support our intergenerational work – bringing together different age groups with a common goal. We want to increase participant engagement in how we plan projects, for example, mapping health walks and putting together playlists.”

Nicola Graham, Community Projects Officer, Aberdeen Football Club Community Trust

If you’re thinking about starting a digital participation project we have a directory of organisations and projects that we’ve supported to draw inspiration from. You can also make your own commitments by signing the Digital Participation Charter and learning what kinds of commitments other organisations are making.

*One Digital is a collaborative digital inclusion programme developed by Age UK, Citizens Online, Clarion Futures (part of Clarion Housing Group), Digital Unite and Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO). We’re funded by the National Lottery Community Fund until 2020 to deliver digital skills training, through Digital Champions and share what we learn. Our network of Digital Champions provide personalised and ongoing support to help people in their communities learn new digital skills and benefit from being online.