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Delivering social impact: Capgemini volunteers help people get online

Monju Meah
Oct 17, 2023

This Get Online Week, UK Digital Inclusion Project Manager Monju Meah reflects on how our team have been sharing everyday digital skills in their local communities during 2023.

Basic digital skills are essential for everyday life. Skills such as using the internet are needed for working, accessing public services, travelling and staying informed. However, 10.2 million people in the UK lack the basic digital skills needed to get online. This means they are at risk of being left out from society.

By uniting the skills and passions of our people, we look to help change this. Our digital inclusion programme creates ways for our team to get involved in sharing digital skills, in collaboration with local charities and organisations.

We also equip colleagues with the knowledge and resources to develop their own skills-sharing initiatives that respond to their local communities’ needs. Through empowering our people, we amplify our collective impact – reaching more people with tailored support.

I’m delighted that Capgemini volunteers helped 3,700 young people and adults in the UK with learning basic digital skills in 2022. As we mark Get Online Week – a national campaign raising awareness of digital exclusion – I caught up with a couple of our volunteers who have been making a difference in their communities this year.

Helping across the UK

Darren Fox-Hall, Senior Project Manager, is one of our volunteers supporting the charity AbilityNet. Since 2022, Capgemini has collaborated with AbilityNet to provide a pathway for our team to join the charity’s national network of volunteers, who help with digital support requests from disabled people and older people in their local communities.

To date, 43 Capgemini volunteers have assisted AbilityNet to support around 225 people across the UK. Darren has been involved in supporting individuals in his local community in South Lincolnshire: “Volunteering with AbilityNet is a fantastic way to give back to my community. It’s allowed me to use my IT skills to help others and during the past year, I’ve supported a number of people get online and use the internet.

For instance, I assisted one elderly woman learn how to access her emails, browse the internet, and make video calls to family. Another time, I helped with a project to provide digital devices for Ukrainian refugees by setting up around 100 laptops.

I’ve now become the Lincolnshire County Coordinator for AbilityNet, as of September. I help assign support requests to the AbilityNet volunteers available to assist within my area, while also continuing to help with support requests myself. It’s really rewarding seeing the direct benefits of sharing digital skills, and I hope my new role will help me make even more of a difference.”

Taking the initiative

It was through our ‘Inspire’ internal digital inclusion training, that Software Engineer Eny Ojejinmi became involved in digital skills sharing. Co-created with social enterprise Digital Unite, Inspire trains our team to help others learn digital skills, encouraging them to make a practical pledge to start helping at the end of the course. So far this year, 180 members of our team have made a pledge.

Eny completed the training, helping her identify a friend in Kent who would value support with using technology: “When you work in technology, it’s easy to assume that digital skills are common knowledge. Before taking the Inspire training programme, I was completely unaware of the extent of the digital divide. I had recently met someone in my community who needed help, so pledged to be available to support them navigate the digital world.

For example, my friend told me that they were spending a lot of money on international phone calls and with the cost-of-living crisis, this was becoming quite difficult for them. I helped them learn alternative ways to contact abroad and supported them to build confidence in using a digital messaging app, so they could send messages using the internet.”

Building communities

Speaking with Eny and Darren, I’m struck by their passion and inspired by the difference they have seen one-to-one support can make to people’s lives. It’s something I’ve seen myself at the monthly “Techy Tea Parties” I’ve been hosting in Newcastle since July.

These informal, drop-in sessions invite people to bring their mobile or tablet, along with digital-related questions that they’d like help answering. For example, one participant wanted to learn how to download bus timetables and search online for information, another was struggling with how to complete a software update.

As the months go by, some of my neighbours are starting to attend regularly. The sessions are acting not only as a place to learn new digital skills and get online, but also as a way to meet other community members for a coffee and catch up. It’s great to see how learning everyday tech skills is not only helping more people stay connected with friends and family living in other towns, but also building a stronger feeling of community on my doorstep.

Monju Meah

Digital Inclusion Project Manager
Monju assists with managing the daily operations of our UK Digital Inclusion Programme. Monju has focused on addressing digital inclusion and driving positive social impact since 2015, before which they held various insights and data roles within Capgemini. With over 15 years of volunteering experience around the world, Monju has personally helped raise over £1 million for charity. In 2023, they were awarded a British Citizen Award for services to volunteering and fundraising.