Three Digital Zones are now open in various locations in Croydon as part of the Go ON Croydon partnership – Croydon Council’s initiative to teach basic digital skills to people in the borough. A further four Digital Zones are due to open later this month.
Croydon was the first London borough to partner with the UK’s digital skills charity Go ON UK to support residents in getting online in November of last year. The move came after recent research found that 23 per cent of adults in London are unable to carry out simple online tasks.
Croydon’s flagship Digital Zone takes place every Friday 9am – 4pm at Access Croydon at Bernard Weatherill House, Mint Walk. Members of the public can drop in and receive guidance and training in how to use computers, tablets and the internet. Digital Champions – volunteers who work in the Digital Zones – take members of the public through tasks such as setting up email accounts, using Google and booking doctor appointments online.
Two other Digital Zones are currently operating on Thursdays 9.30am – 4.30pm at Lloyds bank branches in George Street and North End Road.
Go ON Croydon Coordinator Anne Sturzaker told Eastlondonlines how important this kind of service is to the local community. She said: “A digital world can be a confusing world for people who have no digital skills. What a Digital Zone does is find the interests, the hobbies and the needs of people who drop in, and actually hook them into the digital world.”
The role of a Digital Champion is to identify where the participant needs the most support and to ensure they learn skills that will directly benefit them. As Jeannette D’Souza, a Digital Champion at Access Croydon’s Digital Zone explained that the focus it is not just about gaining technical skills but also about connecting people with friends and family. She added: “The Digital Zone helps people get back in touch with their loved ones and family so that they can get the most out of life.”
Go ON Croydon is set to run for a year with further locations opening at the end of January.
Go ON Croydon Coordinator, Anne Sturzaker, told Eastlondonlines of the benefits of the scheme: