Published on 09 September 2020

Digital Workshops: learning from one another

Frédéric Walch is an IT expert at Orange, in Lyon (France). For 9 years, he has also volunteered to help women to get back up to speed with digital technology. Frédéric recommends we all experience this digital solidarity: no need to be expert and what a great source of satisfaction!


It all started with an email!

It was an email from the Orange Solidarity association that made me do something. The aim was to mobilise volunteers to work with the associations to reintegrate people in difficulty. Although I have always enjoyed helping people, up until then I had never thought about sharing my digital knowledge in an association through workshops. I said to myself: "Let’s give it a go, we’ll see what happens!"

I discovered motivated and motivating people

After several trials in different associations, I chose to accompany the women supported by the Lyon branch of the charity Force Femmes. It is mainly women over 45 who have had to stop working, sometimes for many years, and who are poorly equipped to deal with new digital uses that have become essential. Based on their profile, they learn the basics of using a PC or the internet, they refresh their knowledge to search for an office job or, for 40% of them, they learn how to develop their project or create their business. They are all incredibly motivated and are there for great reasons!


You give a lot and receive a lot in return

I run Digital Workshops with about six women three times a week from 6 pm to 8 pm in an Orange site at Part Dieu. My three office workshops are dedicated to Excel, PowerPoint and Word respectively. In the room, several volunteers provide one-on-one assistance to the women who immediately put my lessons into practice. Many of us can give two hours of our time to play this role from time to time! It is very interactive, we talk a lot, with humour, in a very friendly atmosphere… It does not feel like work; we have a great time and it is also very interesting because we all learn from one another. It is also gratifying to receive emails thanking you and to know that 70% of the women supported by Force Femmes find a job.

How can I help with Covid?

All the workshops were interrupted during the lockdown but at the request of the head of the association, we started doing workshops via videoconferencing! That went pretty well with more participants…and a more time-consuming job for the trainer. We would love to have a video chat that is secure and enables interactions with multiple trainers.
After the summer, as in the other Orange Foundation digital programmes, we are starting the face-to-face lessons again, in compliance with the social distancing and hygiene measures. This is possible in our "code room".

Come and see!

Today, I am encouraging everyone to give a little of their time like me. It’s simple and it represents so much! There are not many of us running the workshops, and it is annoying to postpone them.
Please don’t hesitate to come even just to try it out or for just a few hours a month. We can find an organisation that works and do great things together!