"We were there to be an organisation that stood up for them"
Posted on 29th January 2024 at 17:00
Luke Castle, co-founder of the Keeping Digital Foundation, spoke to BBC News about our pop-up digital cafes and how he wanted to help those "who felt left behind".
The following content is from an article published by BBC News. You can view the source at the bottom of the post.
A man who set up free digital skills classes while he was still at school in York and who now runs six pop-up digital cafes has said he wanted to help those "who felt left behind".
The Keeping Digital Foundation was co-founded by Luke Castle, now 20, while at sixth form at Huntington School.
It now teaches hundreds of people new skills in using digital devices.
Mr Castle said many services had gone online during Covid, and that had left many people "needing support".
'Unsure about online'
As well as showing people how to properly use digital devices, the sessions run by the foundation, together with the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, also focus on helping people with online shopping and giving advice on how to avoid online scams.
Mr Castle said: "During Covid, so many services went online: banking, the NHS app, government services, council support.
"What we found was that quite a lot of residents were unsure about online and felt left behind.
"So, we were there to be an organisation that stood up for them and provide these face-to-face services."
The organisation now runs six digital cafe services and supports hundreds of people every year to develop digital skills
Mr Castle said the drop-in sessions catered to a wide range of people, with some being "very tech-savvy" and others wanting "to learn something new".
"Some people have had the same phone all their life, but now have a new one and don't know how to use it," he said.
Mr Castle also said he believed the sessions helped people experiencing loneliness, with some people attending "for a coffee and a chat".
Tom Lander, digital Inclusion information officer at the Joseph Rowntree Trust, said the loneliness experienced by some people had been a factor in the organisation's involvement in the scheme.
"With the amount of services going online increasingly, we identified that there is a lot of isolation occurring," Mr Lander said.
"So we decided, actually what we can do as a housing association is support our residents through access to online services."
'Talking is helpful'
Chris Cooke, who was helped by one of the Keeping Digital Foundation's volunteers during a recent pop-up session held at the New Earswick Folk Hall, near York, said she had already learned new skills.
"I had a file which I needed to 'unzip' and I didn't know how to do it," she said.
"It was causing me a certain amount of discomfort and I had to get other people to do it for me, so I thought coming here was the answer.
"Talking to somebody is helpful and you can have a cup of coffee while you're doing it," she added.
Get face-to-face support at a Digital Cafe
Our Digital Cafes are popping up across the city of York, providing a space for York residents to get dedicated support in getting online.
Hosted in a 2 hour session, residents can come down for a warm drink and to ask any questions (and bring along any devices).
Our volunteers are here to help you get online, from setting up a smart phone to signing up to the NHS app or York Council website.
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