Employee spotlight on Lorraine!
Lorraine works as a Community Development Officer within the Connected Communities team. Her post is capacity building which is a relatively new role - she focuses on developing the skills, knowledge and ability of the communities and partners the council support. This may be from formal training or delivery of local and national projects to informal engagement and connecting communities. Lorraine has been in community development for 20 years and has a Post Grad in Community Education.
The Connected Communities Service was launched in early 2020 and integrated the Council’s responsibilities for community empowerment and community learning & development.Six locality teams are led by Connected Communities Managers to support community organisations including the Area Partnerships and community councils.Community Development Officers work together to build stronger, more empowered and cohesive communities across East Lothian.
Lorraine said: “The past year has seen unprecedented shifts in how we approach our work which was often face to face in local communities. However, it has brought significant opportunities: digitally we have made great inroads to online provision of learning and group work, even youth work has become virtual. The ability for communities to come together in response to resilience and recovery work has been phenomenal and we need to build on these strong relationships going forward.”
“I have been leading the Connecting Scotland initiative for our service. This is a Scottish Government programme set up in response to coronavirus. It has provided iPads, Chromebooks, data and support to develop digital skills for people who are digitally excluded and on low incomes. Phase 1 focussed on those who were at risk of isolation because they were shielding. Phase 2 focussed on households with children and care leavers. The Winter Support Fund (second round of phase 2) focussed on older adults and disabled people. I worked together with other council departments and partners to identify those that fitted the criteria. To date East Lothian has secured 745 devices and 583 wifi data packs. Through Connected Communities we have distributed 294 devices with others distributed by our third sector partners.
“The diversity in my role to work with individuals right up to national programmes is really exciting. In particular to see the difference that the projects are making on the ground. I have been gathering case studies to demonstrate the impact but the real life stories have meant so much more because of the restrictions of COVID as they have allowed families to stay connected and individuals to progress in work or learning despite the situation.”
Service user response: “I have benefited from receiving the iPad in a great way. I was able to access the anxiety group, which I only did two three times but if I didn’t have an iPad I wouldn’t have been able to participate. Learning with the kids has been great and made learning colours and numbers fun during lockdown so the iPad has been a saviour in many ways from contacting family to reading the news it’s benefited myself and the kids greatly and was very appreciated thanks”