Chris Grant

Finalist category: Digital Volunteer of the Year Award 2019


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Digital Volunteer of the Year, Finalist, Winner, 2019

Chris Grant is AbilityNet’s Area Coordinator in Scotland, or “King of Scotland” as he is affectionately known by the central team. Since starting in May 2018, he has completely transformed their free services in Scotland, generating huge growth in the number of volunteers and the hours of free tech support provided to older people and people with disabilities.

He has recruited and now manages a team of 25 volunteers who provide telephone, remote and in person IT support to older people and people with disabilities, with another 25 volunteers in the pipeline.

They fix IT problems, give impartial advice and adapt equipment to suit the clients’ individual needs.  Alongside this, Chris motivates and supports his volunteer team offering regular meet ups, training and one-to-one support & coaching.  In Scotland, he is a networking champion, contacting like-minded organisations and charities to spread the word of their free services and increase their impact.

There is not a day goes by that he is not making contact with a volunteer, potential volunteer, client, local organisation, or anyone else he can get his hands on (!) to grow the AbilityNet service in Scotland.  All this is despite long term health issues that mean he is in constant pain and discomfort.  He’s energetic, reliable and truly committed.

Before Chris joined there were just 6 volunteers in the whole of Scotland. Within just one year, Chris had recruited 25 new volunteers and there are another 25 in the recruitment process.  He has interviewed each of these potential candidates, and communicated with them throughout the process so they feel part of a team before they are even actively making visits.

Chris has also set up eight training sessions in Scotland, inviting experts from other organisations or running it himself, covering topics such as Facebook security, Dolphin, Apple software, etc. He instigated and organised their first ever Scottish volunteer event. Collaborating with RNIB, he set up the day, and organised for volunteers and local charities to attend and take part.

He has helped numerous clients. He personally calls every new client to introduce himself, reassure them, and have a good long chat about their IT issues and anything else that’s on their mind. Chris’ persistence, endless energy and commitment is special.

“In recent years, the Scottish volunteer community had become quite dormant, with very few calls coming through. Chris breathed new life into the area, putting an immense amount of energy into working with the existing volunteer group, finding new volunteers and looking at ways to publicise the service so that we find clients who need our services. He’s pretty much the non-stop human dynamo in this regard!

H”e also carefully finds the right balance between providing a professional service to our clients on the one hand and awareness that the people providing the service are volunteers with many other demands on their time on the other. This is a real skill – to get the best response possible from a volunteer workforce, while keeping everyone feeling that they are making a valuable contribution.” Simon Flower, AbilityNet volunteer

The “Chris effect” speaks for itself. He has increased the volunteer team from 6 to 50, and just this year to date, the Scottish team have supported 137 disabled and older people with their IT, compared to a mere 22 for the same period last year.  An increase of over 500%. Their customer satisfaction rating is impeccable at 100% – with all their clients rating the free service given as excellent or good.

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