In Scottish Enterprise, we can take up to 3 days per year to volunteer. A few of us on the Digital team have use this to contribute to various projects. Others in the team and across Scottish Enterprise are also volunteering on their own time.
“Scottish Enterprise supports colleagues to carry out volunteering work in the community during working hours. This support recognises your right to privacy in your volunteering outside of work, as well as encouraging volunteering for projects within working hours which are in your area and which support charitable organisations, the environment and young people.”– Volunteering policy
Aims of this policy
This allows us to share our knowledge, skills and abilities. Contribute to our personal development and it’s an opportunity to build new skills. This raises the profile of Scottish Enterprise within the local communities in which we live and work.
Improving digital skills and teaching accessibility to future developers
By Stéphanie, Service designer
I work as a service designer but I used to be a software developer. This year I’ve volunteered for two projects and made full use of the 3 volunteer days allowance.
Code Your Future
Code Your Future is a UK based non-profit organisation that trains refugees and other disadvantaged people to become web developers and helps them to find work in the tech industry. They have one group based in Glasgow. All the classes are online at the moment.
They had very little in terms of accessibility in the material they are using to teach future developers, so I started to create some material for them. This is a great way to contribute to a future generation of developers who will be able to make a difference in the tech community: more diverse and aware of good practice.
They are so motivated and interested, it’s a pleasure to teach them and I’ve been learning more about accessibility myself in the process.
If you would like to volunteer too, you don’t need to know how to code. You can help the students with their soft skills, like making their CV, managing their final project for example.
Improving digital skills for East Renfrewshire Council
I used to work for this council and stayed in touch with previous colleagues there. In February, one of them contacted me to create a website to support classes to help refugees and other participants to improve their digital skills by training on prototyped forms of existing services.
This would have been a perfect project for many in our team to join and contribute and we had made a start. Unfortunately, with COVID 19, it became too hard to get time to work on this as a team.
Instead I’ve worked on this project on my own time and found some graduates from Code Clan to code with me. The website is live since August and two groups have already trained on it. Most of them are now using various online form by themselves and are much more confident.
““It was a great experience, it really helps to break the fear“– one of the learners
This project got some interest from other councils in Scotland who would like to get something similar as well.
You can see the website using this link, you will be asked for a username and password. Both are erc-tool.
If you are interested in this project, this personal blog post will tell you more.
Helping non-profits make their websites more user-friendly
By Katie, Service designer
I spend a lot of my spare time using my service and content design skills to help non-profits improve their websites and services. I get to tackle different kinds of problems than I do at work, and nothing gets my brain going like a good problem. Plus I’m hopefully make the world a little better in the process.
Scottish Tech Army
I recently got involved with the Scottish Tech Army, which was founded at the height of the Covid-19 crisis this spring to help non-profits and the government tackle tech challenges brought on by the pandemic.
One project that I worked on involved helping a social enterprise that offers workplace mental health training. They were having to move from face-to-face to remote training and wanted to make it easier for people to find their new online courses.
A lot of content had been added to the site over time without anything being removed, which made it cluttered and difficult to navigate. We discussed who their users were and what their needs were, before coming up with a new site structure that removed a lot of content that people weren’t looking at and made it easier to find their online courses.
I’m also working on a project with a rape crisis charity. They’re struggling to meet the demand for their services and want to improve their website content so that people who they are unable to support immediately can use it as an information resource. I’m looking at how we can improve their information content to make it easier to read and find.
You don’t have to be a tech professional to volunteer with the Scottish Tech Army – if you’re interested in learning new tech skills, you can buddy up with someone with more experience on a project.
Digital for Good
I also did some work with Digital for Good, a community in Scotland that connects digital professionals with the third sector. They put me in touch with a charity that provides support to Eastern European immigrants with mental health challenges.
The charity wanted a CRM system to help them manage client information, so I helped them map out their current processes so we could identify the pain points in their service before designing a solution. The project has been put on hold because the charity doesn’t have capacity right now, but hopefully they will be able to pick it up again soon.
The next round of projects is due to start in November – if you’re interested in getting involved, you can fill in the volunteer application.
Helping women who have experienced maternity and pregnancy discrimination
In the rest of my spare time (ha!), I also support a charity that aims to fight the motherhood penalty by helping them with their website when they need it. I also volunteered on their helpline during lockdown by providing guidance to pregnant women and mothers who felt their employers were discriminating against them because of their childcare needs.
Befriending young people
By Kimberly, Service assurance
When lockdown began, I thought about young people being stuck at home instead of in school with their chums. I was seeing lots of social media activity around what parents were doing to try and keep their kids entertained and educated. Then I thought about the huge number of families that didn’t have this kind of luxury, ability and/or power. By this I mean access to technology, understanding of the school curriculum and no opportunity to stay at home as they are essential workers.
I decided to become a befriender for a young person with People Know How. The young person I could be matched with would be a child in need of an extended support network and this could be for a whole host of reasons. It’s not my job to be their mentor or counsellor, but what I do is offer one hour of down time, playing games and chatting online every week.
It’s an opportunity for my young person to either talk about, or take their mind off their worries. We have a lot of fun, we play chess, we talk about school, we’re helping each other learn Italian and all sorts. I joke with my young person that they are my befriender rather than the other way around.
I’ve realised how much I love that one hour a week where I shut out my work and private life and can relax. We both get a lot from it and will continue our befriending sessions online until we can meet face to face on the school premises (this seems a long way down the line right now).
Do you know of any volunteering opportunities that could use a designer? Let us know in the comments section.