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Digilocal relies on volunteers to help support its free children’s technology clubs

Bristol award winning charity, runs free technology clubs and provides laptops (new or repurposed) to young people aged 8-16 across Bristol

Digilocal a small charity which runs free technology clubs and provides laptops (new or repurposed) to young people aged 8-16 across Bristol rely heavily on volunteers to help support their clubs. Digilocal has been running clubs since 2016 and in partnership with volunteers and local communities, it has set up 14 clubs, in Bristol and surrounding areas. Clubs are set up in areas where there are higher levels of deprivation and targets young people who are underrepresented in technology.

Digilocal is staffed by a small central team with most of the support coming from 40 volunteers. The clubs could not run without volunteers and so the charity are working closely with Orchard Fundraising to help increase volunteer numbers over the next year, to support additional clubs.

Dr John Bradford, CEO of Digilocal, says: “In the past year we have been able to expand our activities as since 2021 our fundraising has gone from strength to strength. We have had strategic fundraising advice and practical support from Orchard Fundraising and with the help of their fundraising consultants, we have raised £60,500. This funding allows us to expand our in person club provision, grow volunteer numbers and engage with new communities. We believe in putting communities and young people at the centre of the clubs and they have a say in how the club runs and this one of the keys to the success of the clubs.”

By embedding the clubs in the communities in which the young people live allows young people the opportunity to discover their digital talents and develop the problem solving skills and resilience that will be vital in their future career. To ensure that there are no barriers for young people to attend the club, Digilocal has developed a laptop provision scheme which ensures that young people can take part in the club but also have access to laptops. This enables the young people to complete their homework, as many of them do not have access to computers and/or Wi-Fi.

Developing a holistic approach in the development of its clubs, DigiLocal has addressed the issue of digital exclusion, commenting. John Bradford says: “It is our aim that in addition to helping young people develop coding and problem solving skills, we address the issues of digital poverty and exclusion. With our laptop provision scheme, we have repurposed over 1200 laptops, which we use in our clubs and have distributed to young people in the community.”

Having volunteers to support the tech clubs reduces costs and overheads and enables young people, most of whom lived in deprived areas, receive support and mentoring from people who work in or have experience in the technology industry. The feedback from parents and young people is that the young people’s confidence has increased and that it has normalised interactions with volunteers from the technology industry, people with whom the young people would not normally meet. One indirect benefit of the clubs is that young people are no longer engaging in anti-social behaviour.

For information on how to get involved with DigiLocal go to; DigiLocal – Supporting communities to run tech clubs for their young people

For fundraising or volunteer recruitment advice you can contact Sam Watson, Director of Orchard Fundraising here:-

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