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South Riverside Community Development Centre: Building confidence through digital literacy

SRDC hands using laptop

Digital Support Tutor Islah Hamad shares how South Riverside Community Development Centre (SRCDC) is supporting women from ethnic minority communities to gain confidence and improve their digital skills to get the best out of what the internet and digital technology has to offer.

Islah has been volunteering with SRCDC in various capacities over the years, including supporting translation and interpretation. SRCDC initially got involved in Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being (DCW)’s Digitally Connected Communities pilot programme in 2022. The programme’s aims were to tackle unique barriers faced by ethnic minority communities to getting online, by supporting these communities to take advantage of everything digital has to offer. Through working with organisations such as SRCDC, the programme looked to create fair and equal opportunities for these communities to enjoy the benefits of being online.

A Community Champion: Islah Hamad

Having attended SRCDC’s Essential Digital Skills Course, delivered by DCW, Islah had put herself forward to support other women in the local communities to improve their digital skills. Through support, guidance and resources provided by DCW, as well as Islah’s own experience and knowledge around digital, she is delivering regular weekly digital sessions via tablets and the desktop computer available in their IT suite.

Islah said: “I realised many women attending the sessions had some experience in using WhatsApp to communicate but unfortunately, they did not have email addresses and knew little on how to use them. Having an email address and being able to use it is very important for people, as an email address is required when opening an account whether it is for online shopping or accessing areas of the local council’s website. In addition, through our sessions we have been able to guide women to use some of the basic functions of having an email i.e., creating, receiving, and adding attachments.”

Delivering Essential Digital Skills

SRCDC is crucial for helping the communities in the Cardiff areas of Grangetown, Riverside and Canton, where various activities and programmes are being delivered. Through Islah delivering the Essential Digital Skills Course to women in her sessions, she has given opportunities for people to gain skills and knowledge around communicating, problem solving, finding information, transacting and being safe online.

Islah explains: “The resources of the Essential Digital Skills Course have given me the base to cover essential digital topics. This has been further supported by introducing the online learning platform ‘Learn My Way’ – using its videos as a guide for people to follow. DCW also have a nice clear video around how to create an email address, which I’ve found particularly helpful.

It is also important to hear from the group around their required needs. For example, many of the women are parents and they needed support understanding and navigating through the Seesaw and SIMS apps to ensure parents can keep on top of their children school activities.”

Gaining Experience and Problem-Solving

Islah is aware that more services have gone online over the few years and its important people are not left behind. It can be daunting for someone who may have limited digital skills or confidence to engage safely and confidently with services online.

Islah explains: Filling in online forms is a struggle for many women we engage with. Providing them the opportunity to improve their typing skills using our desktop and Microsoft Word and going over many online forms, has given the confidence to overcome their worries and reducing the reliance of others to fill their forms. This is another important skill required for people in our communities, especially as we have seen more services going online over the last two to three years.”

Problem solving is a key topic that is covered in DCW’s Essential Digital Skills Course. The session supports people in how to use the internet to solve problems through using search engines, web chat, FAQs, online tutorials, and forums. Knowing how to use the internet to solve problems can empower people to resolve problems on their own; it can often help to save time that would otherwise be spent on hold on the phone to a company or even save money by resolving household issues. Ultimately, quick answers and solutions are available through the internet.

Islah said: “We are seeing women attending our sessions are now realising Google and YouTube can help to solve diverse types of problems. In addition, the introduction to Google Maps is helping women to find bus and train times, allowing them to now visit the SRCDC more often to access our services.”

Transformative Impact of Digital Skills Training

Islah added: “The women that have been supported are much more confident and experienced now. Women are starting to contact our centre via email which they were not able to do before. They do not require as much assistance as before as they have learnt how to do many tasks themselves now. We anticipate any skills and knowledge gained can be passed onto others in their circles whether that is family or friends. The Essential Digital Skills Course I attended which was delivered by DCW Trainers was extremely useful as it covers what the women in the community want to learn.”

Nilufa and Jegaseeli, two people who took part in the programme, have shared some thoughts about their journeys, highlighting newfound confidence and proficiency in online activities.

Nilufa: “I have improved in getting safe online. I can find out how to solve problems and finding useful information online”

Jegaseeli: “I have improved in learning to send emails and learnt my way around and using the computer. I have made an email address with a password. And I have learnt how to use the keyboard, including how to type letters.”

Mohammed Basit, DCW’s Digital Inclusion Advisor for Ethnic Minority Communities said of the work that Islah and SRCDC are doing: “It’s fantastic to see Islah continuing to support women in the local community with digital support having initially attended DCW training. Her support and guidance can make a big difference to the lives of many individuals associated with SRCDC, giving them the skills and confidence to be able to benefit from what digital tools and the internet has got to offer.

“Digital inclusion holds great potential to empower ethnic minority communities in Wales, promoting their socio-economic growth, encouraging cultural exchange, and strengthening social cohesion. By embracing digital technologies and ensuring equal access, Digital Communities Wales, communities, organisations, and partners can work together to bridge the digital divide and create an inclusive society that values and supports diverse ethnic communities.”

For more information about digital inclusion support for ethnic minority communities in Wales, support, or even just a chat, please reach out to Mohammed Basit by emailing or calling 07824 035880.