Working on a new project is exciting, overwhelming and full of lots of opportunities.
We are currently investigating what we can do locally around digital skills. Digital skills mean different things to different people. It could be anything from the basics of getting online to understanding the ins-and-outs of programming.
It's no secret that being digital in the 21st century is essential. Did you know that the UN considers access to the internet as one of it's Millennium Development Goals? Without the ability, capacity or motivation to get online many people across communities will be left behind.
This is particularly important in a community like ours. Langholm is a remote rural area and that means that services (like banks and post offices) think the most cost-effective solution is to move their business online. Sadly, there's not always a great deal of support for people who aren't yet digitally active.
In my research around "what works" (grateful thanks to the Digital Participation team at SCVO), it's clear that supporting people to get digital needs to focus on their needs and be delivered informally and on a one-to-one basis.
I've also been lucky enough to speak to some great people, like Melville Housing Association in Midlothian. Their Digital Kitchen project fused learning digital with gaining life skills like cooking and provides an inspirational and innovative model about how we can help people.
As this development phase progresses, I'll also be learning about projects across Scotland like CLASP Digital in Ayrshire about how they've successfully supported digital learning in the community, and hopefully bringing some transferable lessons here to Langholm.
A little bit closer to home is the Dumfries & Galloway Digital Skills Partnership which will have its inaugural meeting in a few weeks' time, bringing together people from across the region with a similar vision of increasing digital participation for all.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I'll be trying to speak to as many groups and individuals as I can to try and discover what the local need really is. In order for this to be a project that is supported by and responsive to the local community, I'll be ensuring they're in the driving seat of shaping what it looks like.
If you have anything to add or want to learn more, don't hesitate to get in touch with me.