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Community Champions: We visit the digital hub connecting East Yorkshire

We think Hull & East Yorkshire has some amazing community groups, run by local volunteers who want to make a difference in our region.

In the latest of our “Community Champions” series, we went along to the digital hub inside The Hinge Centre; a community centre in Bridlington which helps isolated people get online and connected to the digital world.

As communication and important services shift towards a digital-first approach, many within our communities, especially older individuals, those with disabilities, and people living without reliable internet access, are at risk of being left behind. This digital divide is not just about access to technology, but also about the ability to use it effectively.

The Hinge Centre, run almost entirely by dedicated volunteers, is tackling this challenge head-on. The centre offers a digital IT suite that’s become a lifeline for many in the local area. Here, individuals receive one-to-one support to navigate the online world—be it setting up and using emails, understanding the benefits system, creating CVs to increase employability, or learning how to use job-seeking sites. Furthermore, the centre helps people learn how to use their smartphones or tablets to access the internet, ensuring they can stay connected even without a PC at home.

This initiative was established following a consultation with the local community, which highlighted a significant need for support in becoming more digitally involved. The current staff-run drop-in and one-to-one sessions have been a great start, but they limit the centre’s capacity and frequency of assistance. More volunteers would enable the Hinge Centre to extend its services, reaching more people who could benefit from digital inclusion.

Volunteering with the Hinge Centre is open to anyone with digital skills, a friendly and patient attitude, and who can pass a DBS check. It’s an opportunity to make a tangible difference in people’s lives by helping them navigate an increasingly digital world.

In partnership with AbilityNet, a UK-wide charity, the centre also extends its reach to those who cannot easily leave their homes. AbilityNet volunteers, like Dave who covers North, West, and East Yorkshire, offer their time and skills to set up digital services and accessibility features in the homes of the elderly and disabled. Dave, who left an intensive career not for retirement but to give back, exemplifies the spirit of volunteering. He’s helped individuals, like the one who was soon to go blind and wanted to continue enjoying books, to access audiobooks through voice-activated devices, ensuring they remain connected to their passions despite their challenges.

AbilityNet’s mission to make the digital world accessible to all is a clarion call for more volunteers. The organisation’s vision is for volunteers across the UK to support people in their local areas, minimizing travel and maximizing impact. Even if you can’t spare the time for travel, remote volunteering through video calls can offer invaluable help. Just 30 minutes of your time could significantly benefit someone needing assistance.

Volunteering with the Hinge Centre or AbilityNet is not just about providing technical support; it’s about opening doors to new opportunities, fostering independence, and combating isolation. If you’ve ever helped a family member with a digital device, you already possess the skills needed to make a difference.

The Hinge and AbilityNet are just some of the incredible projects happening in Hull & East Yorkshire. They need more volunteers – people with digital skills, a friendly demeanour, and patience – to help deliver more services and change even more lives for the better, so if that sounds like you, get involved at!

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