Scottish Tech Army now numbers more than 850 in its ranks as volunteers do their bit
ATEAM of high-tech volunteers are boosting the work of charities by helping move their services online. Despite launching only eight weeks ago, the Scottish Tech Army is now 850-people strong and its work is supporting more than 70 third sector groups such as the Govan Community Project.
The charity secured funding to buy smart phones and tablets but managing the loan of so many devices was tough.
Traci Kirkland, the project’s Head of Charity, said: “Many of our community members are extremely vulnerable and experience digital poverty.
“This means that people didn’t have access to suitable devices, WiFi 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 this ourselves.”
When lockdown hit, the Govan Community Project moved its English classes, a homework club, weekly community groups and its translation service online.
Covid-19 also meant a reduction in customer demand for the project’s social enterprise, Voiceover skills to do
Interpreting, which into the charity.
Faced with an immediate drop in income, Traci had to quickly find a solution.
She added: “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.”
The Scottish Tech Army was co-founded by entrepreneurs Alistair Forbes and Peter Jaco in just two weeks after a chance meeting on a daily lockdown walk.
Alistair was frustrated that there was little anyone could do other than stay at home and wash their hands.
He 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.”
After setting up the not-for-profit brings funds company, Alistair and Peter sought help from Paul Atkinson of Head Resourcing.
Realising that government backing would help give the Scottish Tech Army credibility and access to many opportunities to help, they started working with Civtech and the Scottish Government Digital Directorate.
Mobilised into specialist teams, the Scottish Tech Army formed rapid response units to fix digital problems fast.
Alistair added: “Our mission was to help charities, voluntary organisations, local government, Scottish Government and government funded agencies tackle the digital challenges caused by Covid-19.
“The eye-catching brand created by Helen Davies of Porridge Design gave us an identity, a personality around which we could build a community.
“A small core team of four launched Scottish Tech Army from our respective homes and by the end of the first week we had already smashed our target for volunteers and projects.
“I’m enormously proud of what we have achieved in such a short space of time and excited about the challenges ahead.
“As we transition out of lockdown and into a new reality, there is still a huge job to be done.
“But, there is strong commitment on the part of everyone at the Scottish Tech Army to continue the work we have started.”