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Free digital advice service expands across Dorset

More people in Dorset can now access free technical advice thanks to the expansion of Dorset Council’s volunteer digital champion service.

Since Covid restrictions were lifted, the council’s volunteer digital champions have gradually resumed their face-to-face advice sessions.

From this autumn the volunteer champions are available, or will shortly be available, at 13 centres across Dorset – from Ferndown in the east to Beaminster in the west; and from Portland in the south to Gillingham in the north.

And, in addition, the council’s Digital Hotline phone service – 01305 221048 – is open five mornings a week for anyone who would like help over the phone.

Dorset Council’s deputy leader, Cllr Peter Wharf, said: “Our volunteer digital champions did an amazing job helping people throughout the pandemic via the Digital Hotline.

“The hotline is a fantastic service but you cannot beat face to face help and showing people in person how to get around their technical problems.

“I’d like to thank our fantastic team of volunteers who are giving up their valuable time to help all of us make the most of this digital world we now live in.”

The digital advice service at libraries and community centres is already proving a hit with residents.

Dawn Devenish can now take more advantage of all her iPad has to offer, thanks to the help she received from champion, Ian Hudson, at Ferndown Library.

She said: “I’ve had my iPad for three years and I could do the basic things such as searching the internet, send emails and take photos  – but I wanted to know what else I could do, in particular connecting it up with other devices like my phone.

“Ian was not only knowledgeable he was also patient and good at judging how best to communicate with my digitally illiterate mind.

“I was delighted with the help he gave me, connecting me successfully to the digital world.”

Ian added: “We can help people like Dawn who already have a good basic understanding of digital and we can also help people from scratch – no problem is too big or too small.”

Any residents who, like Dawn, want to get to grips with technology, can find volunteer digital champions at the following locations:

  • Dorchester Library (every Thursday, 2-5pm)
  • Gillingham Library (every Saturday 9.30am to 1pm)
  • Yarn Barton Centre in Beaminster (every Thursday 9.30am to 12 noon)
  • Sturminster Newton Learning Centre (every Monday and Wednesday 9.30 to 1pm)
  • Ferndown Library (every Wednesday 9.30am to 12.15am and first and third Tuesday 2.30- to 4pm)
  • Portland Library (starting from 7 October on the first and third Thursday 2 to 4pm)
  • Weymouth Library (every Tuesday 2pm to 4.45pm)
  • Littlemoor Library (every Wednesday morning)
  • Verwood Library (every Friday 10.30am to 12.30pm)
  • Wimborne Library (starting from 12 October on the second and fourth Tuesday 10.30am to 12.45pm)
  • Bridport Library (starting from 4 October on every Monday 2pm to 4pm)
  • Wareham Library (starting from 1 October on every Friday 9.30am to 12.15pm)
  • Swanage Library (starting from 1 October on every Friday 1.30pm to 4.15pm)

All sessions must be booked by contacting the library/community centre or by calling the Digital Hotline on 01305 221048 ­(Monday to Fridays, 10am to 12 noon).

Paul Appleby
Author: Paul Appleby