Digital Champions start face-to-face sessions to help Dorset residents with technical issues

laptopsDORSET residents can once again get face-to-face advice on any digital queries, such as setting up and using devices including phones, tablets and computers.

Digital Champions have started to return to Dorset libraries to help people who are struggling to get online.

Meanwhile, the Digital Hotline will keep running to help people who can’t get to the face-to-face sessions.

Digital Champions ran sessions in Dorset’s libraries and community venues until the start of last year, covering enquiries ranging from how to switch on a computer and use it for the first time, through to specific technical queries.

However, when the COVID pandemic struck these sessions had to stop and, since then, Digital Champions have been helping people with their digital queries through the telephone hotline.

Mike Watson is one of the volunteer digital champions. He said: “In face-to-face support sessions the digital champion can see the exact issue and suggest a range of actions. If the first doesn’t work, we can immediately try something else.

“An informal relationship develops between the Digital Champion and the user, and as the user starts to make progress dealing with the technology, genuine learning happens.”

The sessions will be spaced apart to allow full cleaning and other COVID secure requirements will be in place.

Perspex screens will separate the user and the digital champion or two computer screens will be available to maintain distance between them.

Slots are currently limited to Dorchester on Thursday afternoons and Gillingham on Saturday mornings, with Weymouth, Littlemoor and Ferndown planned to follow soon.

Anyone who can’t access these can still use the Digital Hotline by calling 01305 221048 between 10am and 12noon Monday to Friday.

Councillor Peter Wharf, deputy leader for Dorset Council, said: “It’s great to see that our volunteer digital champions are able to start supporting people again in this way as face-to-face sessions are the best way to help people who struggle with technology to develop their digital skills.

“Part of our digital vision for Dorset is to enable it to be a digital place. We want to help residents learn new digital skills which will make their lives easier.

“Businesses will have access to people with the digital skills they need and together we will be able to use technology to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Face-to-face slots with digital champions must be pre-booked to ensure they are COVID secure. If you, or someone you know, would like some help from a digital champion with a digital query, just call the Digital Hotline.

Two other community venues have also re-opened their digital help sessions, so you can also book slots at:

  • Sturminster Newton Community Learning Centre (within The Exchange) on Monday and Wednesday mornings by calling David on 01258 860905 or emailing snclc@btconnect.com
  • Yarn Barton Centre, Fleet Street, Beaminster, on Wednesday mornings by calling 01308 805060
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