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Tap into IT Where You Are:Overview

Who are We?

Tap into IT, as an organisation, commenced in early 2008, when Mike Ellis established it as a part-time, sole trader operation providing 1:1 computer tuition to people in their own homes. In early 2011, it became a full-time operation and by March 2012 had become a company limited by guarantee, operating as social enterprise - Tap into IT Where You Are Ltd. It is based at Mertoun Place, Edinburgh.   A board was formed in early 2015.  Staff soon followed with appointment of a Volunteer Co-Ordinator and a Administrator.

What we do 

Our mission is “to help everyone (particularly older people) to get online, promoting social inclusion and benefiting all of us. We do this where people are - in their own homes or the places where they feel ‘at home’ in the local community. “

Current Services.IMG_0301.JPG

  1. Beginner classes and Clubs in sheltered housing, community centres and other group locations. This is the main service area in which Volunteers are involved.  These services are aimed at enabling adults who need help to access the benefits of the internet and technology, particularly older people and those with disabilities and health problems. Each Club has a paid Facilitator/Tutor, supported by Volunteer Tutors. The beginner training covers operating basics, internet and email in a way that is most likely to engage learners, taking their own interests and day to day concerns as the starting point and helping them recognise skills they already have that are 'transferable'.  The clubs help users to stay online and continue to benefit beyond the initial beginner training.  Social interaction and fun are key features of the clubs. Future plans include the provision of additional services through the club network (see below for more information) such as the Online Shopper Service, the ‘Revitalise and Reconnect’ service and help to book things online (-from a trip to the cinema to a holiday), fill out forms, find information, print off Boarding Passes etc. The Housing Associations themselves (-currently Viewpoint) purchase these services on an annual basis. We have been successful in securing some funding from other sources to extend or enhance the services we can offer. Current funders include CGI  (-a multinational company who are providing transformational ICT services to Edinburgh Council, see www.cgi-group.co.uk) and South Central Neighbourhood Partnership. Organisations are more aware now of the cost savings to be had through what they call  ‘channel shift’ as well as the quality of life benefits to the people themselves, so there’s growing interest in supporting what we’re doing.

The following services are delivered primarily by paid Digital Support Workers.        


  1. Online Shopper Service for those living in or around the Clubs who would like the convenience, extra choice and cost savings of online shopping but need help to put in an order. The service is subject to a User Agreement and delivered by trained Digital Support Workers who are Protection of Vulnerable Groups scheme members. The current charge (October 2016) is £15 per half hour, which is the average length of time to complete an order once the service is underway. We are investigating the possibility of service users getting financial assistance where required from Edinburgh Council’s Health and Social Care Dept or elsewhere.

  1. iPad/tablet Accessibility Training. With the help of RNIB’s ‘One Digital’ project, we are developing a 6 week course of 1 hour sessions on the use of the accessibility features of Apple or Android tablet devices for people with sight loss e.g. Macular Degeneration. Currently we have a limited amount of funding for beginner training (see no.1 ‘Beginner Classes’ above) for those in social housing / on low incomes.IMG_20160204_152254939_HDR.jpg

  1. ‘Revitalise and Reconnect’.  We want to extend the benefits of ‘the web and tech’ to those for whom they are inaccessible without ongoing help. One way we are doing this, also thanks to funding from CGI,  is in partnership with ACE IT (www.aceit.org.uk/) who will deliver a training programme for those who have basic digital skills at least and who are in regular contact with an older relative or friend perhaps who is less able to get out and about and would really benefit from being online.  The Carer/Visitor will be shown how they can use an iPad/tablet with mobile internet connection as an effective tool in reviving the interests of the person and to reconnect them with others through the web.  Support will be provided over a number of weeks until they are confident enough to continue by themselves but as part a network providing mutual support and inspiration. ACE IT already do something similar through their ‘Moose in the Hoose’ service, for which they train volunteers to “help care home residents to keep in touch with family and friends through access to the Internet, email, Skype and many other computer /iPad based activities” (-go to http://moose.aceit.org.uk/ to find out more). moosers0aa.jpg

  1. 1:1 training and remote support to users in their own homes delivered by paid Digital Support Workers to customers who are prepared to pay the £30 per hour session rate.  At present, we have over 142 active 1: 1 customers in Edinburgh.

Why these services are needed

Statistics show that 3.1 million over 65s do not even see friends, family or a neighbour once a week.  The digital revolution over the last few decades has transformed the way we communicate and interact at all levels and creates new opportunities for people to stay in touch and involved.  Despite that, 5.9 million UK adults (11%) had never used the internet in 2015. 3 million non-users - over half - are in the 75+ age group. Applied to Edinburgh (-population 486k) this means that over 53,400 adults are offline and approximately 26,000 of these are over 75. They are losing out personally, financially, health-wise and otherwise. Our service is helping to tackle the ‘digital divide’ and reduce isolation by enabling people to get online and in contact with friends and family through a service that is local, accessible, tailored to their needs and responsive to what they want.

Isolation can also breed mental health issues, and we believe that bringing older people to classes and club activities, encouraging social interaction and involving them in communal activity all help to counter such potential problems, boosting self-confidence and positivity and even having positive knock-on effects on both diet and levels of exercise.

Further, we are enabling people to remain independent through accessing the practical solutions that the web offers -ordering  prescriptions online, downloading library books, catching up on TV at times convenient to the person, tapping into a whole new world of learning as well as opportunity to pick up on old interests in new ways.

Internet access can help financially, through access to better deals online, helping to counteract diminishing savings interest and decline in pensions value.

We believe passionately that the kind of  basic training that we are providing needs to be made much more widely available and accessible to achieve the goal of digital literacy and digital inclusion for the over 53,000 people in Edinburgh who have never used the internet. It also has to be accompanied by effective, affordable ongoing support for people to stay online and build their digital skills.

Tap into It Target Users

1. 'Self-funding' customers who are likely to be retired/semi-retired people from social groups AB and Ci who are motivated to learn. They may have attended a course as part of a group but require more individual attention to become confident in using their particular equipment at home. Our remote support service fills a particular need for a friendly, reliable, responsive and affordable source of technical support as the need arises.

2. Social Landlords, Organisations, Businesses and Local/Central Govt who are

  1. keen to deliver on their commitments to the empowerment and quality of life of tenants and members in the significant area of digital inclusion.  As a Social Enterprise pursuing similar social benefits, with experience with their client group, Tap into It is a suitable partner

and /or

  1. Aware of the business case for it
  1. in the substantial cost savings to be made and efficiency benefits to be had over time through encouraging the transfer to online communication and transactions (- ‘channel shift’).
  2. Businesses including retailers, banks, insurance and other financial services etc see it as in their interest too as more people are able to shop and do business online.
  3. The Scottish government supports UK government policy in its commitment to promote digital inclusion. (http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Economy/digital/Publications) This has been given further impetus by the acceptance of the strong business case for a 'digital economy', and the push towards 'digital by default' services,especially Universal Credit and other benefits. The Scottish government set up a Digital Participation team in 2014 (-within the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations) to this end.

Staff and Volunteer Roles see Tap into IT Role descriptions and Volunteer agreement

Further info

The bigger picture

Appendix 1

Management Structure

Directors and Staff

Board of 5 Directors + Members.  


Bridget Stevens, Chairperson. Former Director of International Summer Programmes for Continuing Education at Edinburgh University, now retired. Bridget is very community-minded - e.g. she is Chair of South Edinburgh Arts Fair Association which organises the annual 'Spring Fling', designed to showcase the many opportunities which exist in this area for people aged over 50;also is on the Boards of the Eric Liddell Centre and Dig In Community Greengrocers in Bruntsfield. She is actively involved in local government, serving on various Councils & Committees e.g. Merchiston Community Council (-is former Chair).  You can find out more online e.g. this Scotsman/Evening News article .


Mike Ellis, Executive Director is a former Social Work professional with 27 years experience, from the 'hands-on' to management of social care services for adults. His awareness of the needs of users in this field together with an understanding of the obligations and demands on Social Landlords and social care providers is invaluable.  It has provided many networking opportunities and channels for referral of people who are likely to benefit from the services of Tap into IT.


Sheona Hall, Board member. A former Head of Learning Support at Firrhill Secondary School, Edinburgh. As well as relevant teaching experience including with people who have additional needs, she has been involved in staff support and training and strategy development and implementation. Sheona started with us as a Computer Club Volunteer. She is an excellent 'sounding board' as well as source of practical ideas for service development.

Moray Rumney, Board member. Moray works in electronics and mobile communications and was with Hewlett-Packard/Agilent Technologies for about 30 years, now with Keysight Technologies as Lead Technologist. He has been a Volunteer at the Gillespie Crescent club for nearly 2 years where he has already demonstrated substantial commitment to helping people get online.

Mamie Donald, Board member. Mamie set up Third Age Computer Fun for over 50's and developed a network of computer clubs around Edinburgh and further afield (including West Lothian and Falkirk). The charity wound up in 2015 but the clubs continue to run as independent groups, testimony to how well they were set up and how they are valued by their members.

Together the Board is responsible for strategic and financial planning, marketing and support.

Board:Members. Tap into IT is committed to involving service users in the strategy and development of the company as outlined in Tap’s Company ‘Articles of Association.’ Currently a working group comprising representatives from each of the computer clubs is looking at how we recruit ‘members’ and launch ‘membership’.


Staff of 2 (Managing Director, Administrator) together with Club Facilitators and Digital Support Workers paid on a sessional basis.  17 Volunteer Tutors who assist at the Clubs.

Mike Ellis, Managing Director is a former Social Work professional with 27 years experience (see above)

Administrator:new appointment pending, to start in January 2017.

Further info:see  Company Articles of Association

Appendix 2

More info on Services Offered

Beginner classes and a club are set up in each location supervised by a Club Facilitator/Tutor, supported by Volunteer Tutors.  

Fees and Charges

Where Landlord or the organisation funds provision of the service, it is provided without charge to Tenants.

Club members from the local community who are not Tenants are asked to pay £3 per Club or £5 per beginner session.

1:1 services to people in their own homes:£30 per hour session.

Page  of  Tap into IT Overview Last update October 2016 v 0.2