Case study

Halifax Community Bank

Perspective from a partner organisation working with libraries and local public bodies to improve digital skills.

IT session in a library
IT session in a library. Photo credit: Halifax

Partner organisation

Halifax Community Bank is part of Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), a UK retail and commercial bank. They are a signatory of the UK’s Digital Inclusion Charter.

Relationship with the library service

Halifax Library and Halifax Community Bank designed and developed a pilot which used the Halifax libraries IT taster session facilities to help more people become financially and digitally included.

The pilot enabled strong relationships to be forged and epitomised successful cross sector collaboration benefiting not only the goals and aspirations of each business but reaching into the local community with positive social impacts.

The pilot led to roll out on a national scale which commenced with a ‘soft launch’ at the end of October 2015 in Halifax library, with plans to promote through national PR opportunities at the beginning of 2016 to encourage and stimulate demand not only to the IT Taster Sessions but also by raising awareness of the wider resources available at the library.

Shared project

Following a successful pilot in the Calderdale area in West Yorkshire Halifax Community Bank network, colleagues throughout the UK have volunteered their time and expertise to support their local libraries IT Taster Sessions. This means more sessions can be offered because Halifax colleagues have enabled an extension to the current library offering. In some cases, where none have existed, Halifax colleagues have re-introduced the IT Taster Sessions.

These hour-long ‘one to one’ sessions in the library help to improve people’s digital skills to get more people online, with the aim of making the most of using the internet by sharing and using the digital skills our colleagues already have. These sessions are just the start of the learners journey and many clients choose to continue their learning with further sessions or through the promotion of self learning tools such as Learn my Way. This is life changing for both the client and the colleague as both acquire new skills and confidence.

Outcomes of the work

Halifax colleagues have devoted over 40 hours supporting the two library branches in the pilot (Halifax and Brighouse). Birmingham and Barnsley branches have since joined. If each of the 600 Halifax branches devoted an hour to their local IT taster session, this would equate to more than 85 working days.

The pilot confirmed that a single, one hour session is required to support and enhance learning. The starting point for any IT Taster Sessions was to establish what each individual required, which could be as basic as understanding how to use a mouse or how to send an email. Each learner has differing requirements and establishing good rapport and building trust at the outset is essential.

In order for the partnership to work well for the library and Halifax, who both deliver frontline customer services, it was necessary to pre-book the IT Taster Sessions on a pre-agreed date/time. This aided an efficient model whereby staff time was controlled and avoided a negative impact on customer service within the bank.

Most IT taster sessions focused on communication and keeping in touch, eg email or how to use comparison/researching websites. Many of the Halifax volunteers have gone on to help their clients further by dropping them an email to see how they are getting on (encouraging an email response) or set little ‘homework’ type tasks for them to try at home.

Rachel Toddington from Halifax has gone even further by be-friending the lady she coached as they found out they lived close to each other. Now every Wednesday as Rachel passes on her way home from work, she drops in for a cuppa and more impromptu IT sessions on Facebook with this 79 years young lady!! Rachel has provided in excess of 27 IT Taster Sessions during the pilot.

Bob Filby (Brighouse) has now volunteered at his local library on his day off so that he can offer a full afternoon of IT taster sessions. As he works in a small branch, resourcing any longer than a couple of hours a week was proving difficult. Bob was getting so much out of helping others, he has committed his own time as well.

Feedback from both clients and Halifax colleagues

Colleagues

“I get such a buzz helping other people to learn about the internet – it’s really fantastic when you see the smile on their face when they have achieved what they thought was beyond their capability has now become easy. I’ve helped people to stay in touch with friends and family, learn how to get value for money and generally understand about getting online – it’s so easy to do and all it takes is an hour of my time which is nothing really when I get time off work to do it.”

Clients

Rita: “You’ve been so helpful and patient with this old woman, I can’t thank you enough. My sister will fall off her chair when she sees an email from me, and all of the words have spaces between them! I’ll keep coming in to the library regularly now to practice logging in to my emails and sending them.”

Christopher: “So glad you’ve spent the time with me in the library helping me to look at cruise trips and old cars, which I can’t look at, at home. I thought I only needed a computer to get on the internet, but realise I need to sign up to the internet with a company. You’ve given me more confidence to keep coming in to the library to get used to using a computer, so I can then decide if I want to start paying for the internet at home.”

Pamela: “I just wanted to come in and reset my email password. I’ve had the account for a couple of weeks, but just can’t remember my password, I should have written it down! Turns out I had my email address wrong too, so Caroline helped me to set up a new account in only a few minutes, and I can now email my sister and exchange photos, rather than posting them all the time.”

Future plans

Halifax are starting a national roll out via PR opportunities from January 2016. They are also planning a re-launch to all Halifax Branch Managers early next year encouraging them to broker lasting and meaningful relationships with their local library. This should drive volume and value to the IT taster sessions UK wide.

There may be other opportunities in the future which Halifax, SCL, and library services could explore to extend their partnership even further. However, we will concentrate on the IT Taster Sessions during the first half of 2016.

Additional resources

GDS blog: Building partnerships: piloting, iterating, upscaling

Article in Calderdale local newspaper: A taste of technology

Internal Halifax Launch 29 October 2015

Published 16 December 2015