Social inclusion and digital inclusion

A blog from the Community Digital Drop-in

Senior digital learners at Whitmore Community Centre
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Have you got a phone, tablet, or any other digital gadget that you don’t quite understand?
We can fix it at our weekly drop-in.

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Discover new ways to use your phone or tablet.
Our drop-in workshops will help you become more creative and more independent

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Do you need help understanding the Internet?
What's good? What's safe? What isn't?
Learn how to use it safely and sensibly with us

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Learn and share with other people like you.
Our long experience shows that
it's the best way to learn.

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Learning about new technology should be a community activity - not isolated learning at home. We help each other at the digital drop-in.

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The Digital Drop-in is a co-designed grassroots project - developing a successful digital and social inclusion model for more than 15 years

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We have an outstanding volunteer team of older people with more than 100 years of Internet experience between them - supplemented by teams of enthusiastic younger professionals.

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You might be excited by the Internet, you might be confused or irritated - but if you have already had a life without digital technology, our community drop-in project will help you get used to it.

Community computing

… the outcomes are all about social inclusion and community cohesion in the world we actually inhabit

A blog about the Hello Hackney Community Digital Drop-in — a weekly social event offering digital beginners and learners help and support with phones, tablets, laptops — and understanding the Internet so that we can use it safely and sensibly.

Most of what we do is not blogged because it is not bloggable — and about half of the blog is user-generated content set to private (can be seen only be logged-in users).

The drop-in is volunteer-led, and most of the regular volunteer team are older local people. Some of us are digital novices, some have long professional experience of the Internet — but we are all learning because none of us are digital natives, and our lives have not been shaped by digital technology.

The Hello Hackney Community Drop-in model has been evolving naturally since 2006 — continuously, in different locations, with and without funding. What we do looks like digital inclusion, but the outcomes are all about social inclusion and community cohesion in the world we actually inhabit. That is why we do it, and why it works.

Our temporary venue will not be virtual (March 2020)

In less than one week, everything has changed. We can’t restore the full drop-in until the coronavirus crisis is over. Our immediate options include a severely limited drop-in and an expansion of online help — but not disappearing. Until this crisis is over, you can find us on the World Wide Web — and in the real world when we have worked out how to do it safely. More in blog topic Carrying on.

Looking for a new venue (March 2020)

We have been completely full and very busy at every session for the last few months, and we were days away from rebooting our CSR volunteer program. Then broadband Internet at our venue stopped — without warning or explanation. That was mid-January 2020. We have managed with the help of a portable 4G router and sim-only data plan — surprisingly effective as a temporary workaround elsewhere, but not a solution at WCC. So we have suspended the drop-in at Whitmore Community Centre, and we are looking for somewhere else. Posts about that effort are in the blog topic Carrying on.

Drop-in reboot (July 2019)

… no restrictions by age, residence, or possession of paperwork

Despite our ultra-precarious financial situation, the weekly drop-in continues — with a broader and more ambitious scope that reflects our social inclusion priorities. The drop-in is not a service for older people. It’s a community asset — a project run (mainly) by older people who have the necessary time and experience, for everybody else — with no restrictions by age, residence or citizen status.

Two-year review and 2019 outlook (31 Dec 2018)

… about 250 people … and about 300 more, waiting for something to happen

The drop-in has been at Whitmore Community Centre since November 2016. The venue has been a great success, made possible by funding obtained and managed by the very wonderful City & Hackney Carers’ Centre. That funding stopped in August 2018 — but the project, of course, continues. We have been doing this long enough to be optimistic that new funding will arrive eventually.

Since we started at Whitmore Community Centre, we have been visited by about 250 people — from all over Hackney (and some from neighbouring boroughs), and we have hundreds more, waiting for something to happen that they would like to be involved with. So maybe that will be our focus for 2019.

The main reason we have offered so few courses or workshops recently is because both large social spaces at Whitmore Community Centre are usually full of drop-in people (average attendance about 35), and neither space is suitable for structured learning. However — our ideas for 2019 do (tentatively) include more of the short courses that we arranged at Open School East, and possibly a repeat of the longer Agewell Mobile tablet courses at The Lawns computer centre and Hackney Central Library 2013-2015. We have the equipment, but we would have to find an additional venue, and we don’t yet know how to make that happen.

Citizens of the pre-digital era — join us!

… becoming an active contributor, rather than a passive consumer of the Internet

The IT drop-in is for anyone who needs a bit of help with their digital gadgets — and for anyone who just likes to talk about it, or volunteer their own experience — and for anyone who would prefer the Internet to go away (it won’t, but we can help you manage the difficulty) — and especially for anyone who would like to explore the idea of becomng an active contributor rather than a passive consumer of the Internet. Everything we do is free.

No formalities, no appointments — just come — Monday afternoons at Whitmore Community Centre — details on our Information page.

What next? Click on …
What we do at the drop-in All the blog posts What’s on today? About the drop-in