Digital Champion in Etchingham – Anthony Burke
This is our opportunity to give something back to our community. We are working with Race Online 2012 in our capacity as digital champion. Race Online 2012 has set out to make the UK the first nation in the world where everyone can use the web. Chaired by the UK’s Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox and with a full-time staff of five based in London, Race Online 2012 seeks to accelerate efforts to inspire, encourage and support more people online.
It’s hard to imagine business without the internet. It’s integrated into all areas of enterprise – making operations more dynamic, efficient and profitable. Yet according to a recent report by PwC, there are 10 million people in the UK who have never been online and worryingly 4 million of this group are also socially excluded. That’s a staggering 10 million potential customers, employees, stakeholders and investors who are excluded from the digital world.
It sounds as though there’s a mountain to climb before the country becomes a truly networked nation, but it’s far from an insurmountable problem. For example, as digital champion for Etchingham we have been using our IT and digital marketing expertise to teach people who have not been online the basics of the internet. Together, we have the skills and infrastructure to make the UK one of the first countries in the world to establish a fully online, internet enabled society.
We recognised that in many rural areas, individuals and small businesses are still struggling to exploit the broader benefits of the internet as digital skills become increasingly vital tools to access education, information, jobs, consumer saving, market businesses online and social contacts. In the UK, millions of people have never used the internet, millions more lack the confidence to transact regularly on-line and there are many thousands of SMEs and charities failing to use digital technologies to grow their organisations or help their customers and service users.
Digital Champion in Etchingham
We recognised early on that there are many people and small businesses in rural areas like Etchingham where the internet has passed them by. So we resolved to become a digital champion and by using our IT and online marketing skills, the WIFI facilities and meeting rooms at the Bistro@thestation we could try and address this problem by organising small group workshops to teach individuals the basic internet skills that they need to be able to communicate over the internet with skype, email and other tools such as Facebook. We plan to conduct all these training seminars in small groups and the Bistro will sell more coffee and cakes so everyone is a winner! the early results have been fantastic.