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Supporting Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland's charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. Charity registered in Scotland SC003558. Registered office Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh EH3 6BB.

Learning a new skill takes time and digital skills are no different. Embedding digital inclusion support into your service can help. It can foster and build confidence through your trusted relationship.

Three key actions

  • Keep digital support frequent, informal and flexible
  • Prioritise online safety
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Utilise opportunities and resources already available.

Build digital skills support into everyday interactions

You can help people to build digital skills with regular one-off interactions. For example, a user asks you what time your office is open or pops in to drop off a form. You could show them your website and how they can find or submit information online. Talk often about the benefits to being online with enthusiasm and patience. It will help to build their confidence and motivation.

Understand that it is part of a journey

You should not expect instant impact. Getting someone online may not happen right away. Suggest and show different online options often. It will help to contribute to their curiosity and knowledge of the digital world.

Find the ‘hook’

Find out what matters to people. It will be what motivates them to improve their digital skills.

The ‘hook’ will vary for different people. The best way to find the hook is to listen. When you understand a person’s interests and needs you will be able to find the hook. It could be supporting their hobbies, managing their finances, accessing key services or connecting with friends. It will be easier to engage someone and maintain that engagement longer-term.

Keep it frequent, informal and flexible

You will need to tailor your delivery approach to user needs. You might look to run a topical workshop, one-to-one tailored support, informal drop-ins or a mix.

Workshop style or 1-2-1 sessions are suitable for goal-orientated upskilling. For example, help to seek employment, access Universal Credit or reduce household bills.

Informal learning sessions are suitable for general upskilling. For example, helping older people to navigate devices based on personal interests.

You should run sessions, or engage often, to ensure momentum for learning continues. This could be weekly or a couple of times a week.

It is important to remain flexible and adapt your delivery approach to meet user's needs.

Don’t re-invent the wheel

You can access lots of good practice and free resources to help with your digital inclusion work. Particularly if you support a specific group of people like older people, younger people or people with mental health issues.

Use these resources to learn from and adapt them for what you need. This will allow you to focus your time on delivering skills support.

Prioritise online safety

Online safety is one of the biggest fears people have about getting online. This is the reason why ‘being safe, legal and confident online’ is an essential digital skill. You should acknowledge these legitimate fears someone you’re supporting may have. Help them to be aware and build knowledge so they can manage this.

Comparing how we stay safe in the real world is one way to help. For example, you wouldn’t leave your door unlocked so you wouldn’t leave your device unlocked. Build on this to help them to understand the importance of online safety. You should include sessions about passwords, privacy settings, identifying secure websites and recognising suspicious links.

Don’t forget accessibility requirements

You will need to consider any extra factors that might impact someone to gain digital skills.

You may need to help them adjust their device due to a visual, hearing or dexterity impairment. Most devices have good built-in accessibility features such as increasing the font size, adjusting the touch settings or changing the screen colour. You can help to personalise a device to make it more suitable for each user's needs.

You will also need to consider how to best support people where English is not their first language or have numeracy or literacy needs.

These may often be someone’s ‘hook’ for using digital by wanting to learn or get the most from their device.



Blog post - Camphill’s experience with Digital Participation Charter Funding

The impact when Camphill Blair Drummond embedded digital skills support into their existing activities
by Angela Flaws, Camphill Blair Drummond


Hobbies and interests

Guides to online learning resources that can help users to pursue their hobbies and interests in the digital world
by Digital Unite


Being Safe Online

Learn how to use the internet safely, spot scams and keep safe on social media.
by Learn my way


Case study video - Digital Participation with LEAP

The team from LEAP (Lightburn Elderly Association Project) share their experiences of digital participation and its impact on their learners

“We have trialled methods including drop ins, structured sessions and 1:1 sessions. Anything that is viewed as “teaching” or classroom based hasn’t worked for us. However, the brief intervention model where we support with a specific issue – from accessing UC journal to how to play Candy Crush has worked.”

Debs Allan, Project Coordinator, Linstone Housing Association
Last modified on 25 July 2022

Our work to help organisations grow their digital capacity is supported by: