Going Digital with Life Skills

April 11, 2019

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by Jarrod Ewles, Your Own Place

It has been a few months since we got the news that we were successful in receiving further funding from the #NotWithoutMe Accelerator programme. As I sit back and reflect on this time, I can’t help but smile and feel joyous about all of the work the team at Your Own Place has done so far.

As you may (or may not) know we have given our TILS (Tenancy and Independent Living Skills) course a well-deserved makeover. Part of this makeover was to offer more – 24 modules to be exact – and that is how TILS+ (with a Plus) was born.

But what is the Plus?

In short, the Plus is everything we were adding on top of what we were already doing. A large part of the Plus is also reserved for our digital offer. We are seeing more and more need for digital skills and discovering lots of people excluded from this.

How can we tackle such a giant? What can we do?

Part of our solution is to add digital elements to every module we are delivering. Every course will have digital components which range from turning on an iPad, navigating the internet to digital resilience and being safe online. This ensures every course we deliver will always have digital at the core, increasing impact but more importantly embedding digital skills in young people across the board. No matter if it’s a three-day course or a two-hour session, even if they don’t select the full digital module there will still be a digital element to the course.

In January we delivered our first TILS+ course with digital skills included. We were nervous! We were unsure of how it would go! The first words spoken during this session were ‘Here’s an iPad’. I was expecting to see eyes rolling and hear a sarcastic ‘I know’, however there was a slight curiosity in the room. Some young people already knew how to work the iPad, whilst others looked at it like it was an alien object.

What we discovered was the success of this first digital session came from the peer to peer learning. It reminded us that young people so often have the confidence, skills, knowledge and resilience that they are so willing to share with their peers. It’s safe to say that the young people were the plus in TILS+ during this course!

Fast forward to the last week of February. During the digital component of the Debt and APR session Angela, who is in her 60s, set up the iPad and was navigating it online. She was being assisted by Ash who was in his 20s. He was helping her find what she was looking for by giving hints and tips, he never fully gave her the answer. He successfully allowed her to build on her own skills to solve the barriers that were in her way.  In doing so he learnt new digital confidence too!

This was a monumental moment for Angela, Ash and Your Own Place. It was the first time we could reflect and see that adding digital to our offer is already making a difference. It allowed us to unintentionally bring communities together, incorporate a whole new element of peer to peer learning and play a small part in bridging the gap between generations.