Finalist category: Digital Volunteer
Digital Volunteer Award, Finalist, 2021
Bernadette Bourgoin volunteers as a Digital Champion with Clarion Futures, the charitable foundation of Clarion Housing Group, and works with others to help them access the internet confidently and safely and make the most of all it has to offer.
“Learning improves lives and volunteering makes us feel happier and healthier. As a Digital Champion, I use my IT support experience to help others acquire digital skills so that they can access services and resources online and get on with their lives.
“I enjoy working with people of all ages. As part of a generation that was not brought up with computers, I understand how difficult it can be to get on with a new digital device, a smartphone, tablet or PC.
“The pandemic has accentuated the need for people to acquire basic digital skills to keep in touch. Early on, I spent hours upgrading and rebuilding friends’ laptops to ensure internet and remote access.
“You can also improve your language skills through volunteering! With Maria we’d use Spanish and French in our Zoom sessions and emails. She is more confident with her new laptop, and as she was getting lots of nuisance calls and texts I gave her advice with articles from Ofcom, Which and CAB.
“It can be a bit tough helping people you’ve never met over the phone, without Zoom and without visual access to the device. You need patience – try again and you succeed at last. I had an older learner who thought she’d never have to use a smartphone until her husband’s terminal illness. Now she can swipe and tap her iPhone, chat and video over WhatsApp, send emails and arrange hospital appointments.
“I’m grateful for Clarion Futures who have given me the opportunity to be a Digital Champion. I am meeting different kinds of people and making new friends.”