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digital champions award
Picking up the award on behalf of the council is Penny Syddall, programme manager for digital skills and adoption, centre, and Dugald Lockhart, service manager for the Digital Place team, right.

A free training programme that has recruited an army of special advisors to help thousands of Dorset’s residents get online has scooped a prestigious national award.

Dorset Council’s ‘Embedded Digital Champion’ initiative has won the acclaimed ‘Digital Skills’ title at the Connected Britain awards in London tonight.

The award recognises the feat of training nearly 1,000 of the county’s frontline workers and volunteers to be digital champion in their own organisations.

On average, each embedded digital champion is helping at least one person a week with their digital skills.

This means potentially around 46,000 Dorset residents are being supported by embedded champions every year.

The judges said: ‘The scheme is a proactive and impactful initiative that tackles the digital divide head on, providing digital skills to empower those that need it most.’

Embedded digital champions have been recruited from places such as GP surgeries, libraries, voluntary organisations, Dorset and BCP councils and housing associations.

These recruits support people with digital skills like filling out online forms, accessing emails, password management and more.

The champions can also signpost people to more specialist support when needed.

Tailored training was also given to some organisations so their staff can help customers with their specific online services and apps.

Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Corporate Development and Transformation, Councillor Jill Haynes, said: ‘We are absolutely delighted that the Embedded Digital Champions scheme has won national recognition for helping more of our resident access online services.

‘Everyone who has become an embedded digital champion has not only enhanced their own digital skills but are also helping their customers to access and use online services.

‘As we move more and more into a digital world their support has never been more important and I thank every single one of them for doing this training – this award is for them.’

This first phase of the embedded digital champion training has now ended. Anyone interested in finding out about possible future courses can email digitaldorset@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

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