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Tech army volunteers help 70 organisations in need



The Scottish Tech Army says its volunteers have helped more than 70 charities and other organisations since forming eight weeks ago to help out during the pandemic.

Around 850 workers signed up after an appeal by entrepreneurs Alistair Forbes and Peter Jaco to help charities adapt to working online.

Govan Community Project in Glasgow, which works with asylum seekers, had to carry out English classes, a homework club, weekly community groups and its translation service remotely.

Traci Kirkland, the project’s Head of Charity, quickly secured funding to buy smart phones and tablets so the people they support could continue to access the charity’s services. But she says, finding a way to manage the loan of multiple devices, was her biggest challenge.

“Many of our community members are extremely vulnerable and experience digital poverty. This means that people didn’t have access to suitable devices, Wi-Fi or 4G data. We needed an automated system that would keep track of the devices we lent to people and pre-install the apps they needed. We didn’t have the skills to do this ourselves.”

Covid-19 also meant a reduction in customer demand for the project’s social enterprise, Voiceover Interpreting, an important revenue stream for the Govan charity.

Kirkland said: “Because of lockdown we weren’t able to offer face-to-face translation, and many of our regular customers paused their service delivery. We decided that by optimising digital marketing to drive more traffic to our website, we could promote this new service more widely but again lacked the digital expertise in this area.

“The Scottish Tech Army has helped kickstart the marketing of our online video translation service. This will bring much needed income into the charity again.”

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Forbes and Jaco set up the Scottish Tech Army as a not-for-profit company in two weeks after realising thousands of tech-savvy workers had been furloughed. They were helped by people including Paul Atkinson of Head Resourcing and Helen Davies of Porridge Design.

Forbes said: “As more and more talented and experienced people were put on ice as furlough and redundancy took hold, I could see an urgent need for those skills from the charity and voluntary sector. Peter and I had a clear vision of setting up an organisation that could match the right people to the right project.”



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