Clarion Futures One Digital 2nd Project Progress Report. View full report here
Action West London is a charity and Social Enterprise which aims to ‘change lives through employment, education and enterprise’. The organisation works with a wide range of disadvantaged groups including the long term unemployed, young and adult offenders, lone parents, black and ethnic minorities, refugees and older people. Many of the individuals that engage with the organisation are also considered to be digitally excluded, a state which further compounds their situation.
Prior to joining the One Digital partnership with Clarion Futures, Action West London offered ‘limited and uncoordinated’ digital support to participants using mainly the Learn My Way resource. The One Digital partnership presented as an opportunity for Action West London to develop its capacity to support its learners, whilst drawing on the experience of so many other organisations, in order to develop a programme that best addresses the digital skills needs of their learners and helps them to fully participate in society.
The initial model of support for Action West London involved running drop-in Learn My Way sessions and embedding elements of digital support within existing job clubs, which were run in partnership with their local Job Centre Plus. As Action West London supports a large immigrant and refugee population where English is not their first language (ESOL), they soon realised that ESOL learners needed more targeted support than what the Learn My Way resource or the Job club could offer. Providing meaningful digital skills support to learners with ESOL needs proved to be a major challenge.
Nearly twelve months on, the One Digital project funded by Clarion Futures has enabled Action West London to devise creative ways to promote digital skills development when coupled with language learning. One example of this includes recruiting and training Digital Champions with additional language skills and strategically deploying Champions in weekly sessions to learners matching their first language. In particular, the Digital Champions Network (also referred to as the DCN, a support and learning platform developed by Digital Unite) has been an invaluable resource for the organisation. The DCN has supported Action West London to train 16 dedicated Digital Champions. The organisation recognises that without these Digital Champions, the delivery of this project would have been impossible.
“Nissrin, came to the UK from Syria as a refugee in 2016, she had a successful career working as a journalist for a Syrian TV channel, however, when the conflict began she had to move to the UK to start a new life. She found it extremely hard to adjust and a period of illness really affected her confidence. Nissrin came to Action West London to access support; they quickly recognised her skills and potential and offered her the opportunity to become a Digital Champion. She works with learners, who like her, had to flee their country and seek refuge in the UK. Nissrin’s language skills and background allows her to communicate with them effectively. Being a Digital Champion has given Nissrin a sense of purpose, improve her confidence and self-esteem and she has lately started applying for journalist roles. She has recently been awarded ‘Best Accessibility Digital Champion’ at the Digital Champions
View full Clarion Futures One Digital report here