Hi, I’m Tracy, one of HMRC’s IT Service Managers. As someone who is passionate about helping people in the local community I was really pleased to be given the opportunity to help out with Get Online Week. Here’s what we did.
Why is getting online so important?
Get Online Week is the UK’s biggest annual digital inclusion campaign and aims to help millions of people make full use of the internet. The theme this year was ‘Try 1 Thing’ – encouraging people to use the internet to do just one thing that they would normally do offline. Like many other public and private sector organisations up and down the UK, HMRC is becoming a digital business - so we want to help our customers to feel confident using the internet so that they can make the most of the digital services we’re creating. So to support this campaign, HMRC contacted charities and community organisations to offer help at events to encourage people to get online.
Working with a local council
Along with my colleague Ric, my volunteering opportunity was at Wolverhampton City Council. The Council’s Knowledge and Development Manager gave us a quick tour of their website and the services they offer before we were shown to their new Customer Services hub. This has several computers with internet access for customers to use and telephone services to the council’s busiest departments. The hub looked impressive, having recently been refurbished, and there is even a ‘Wolfy’ (the local football club mascot) holding tablets for the kids (and yes, I had a go!).
Although the day turned out to be their quietest so far that week (I hope the presence of HMRC people didn’t scare anyone away!) both Ric and I were able to help a number of customers with their online queries. This ranged from helping a parent submit a secondary school application form for his daughter to a local taxi driver who had let his private hire licence expire. We even found an IT issue with one of the forms that we reported to staff and the relevant Help Desk. Well, you just can’t take the system tester out of an old girl can you?
Sense of Achievement
I found the whole volunteering experience totally rewarding and enjoyable. It was really amazing to see customers discover what they could actually do online. I’ll never forget the look of achievement on the young dad’s face when he realised he had registered for an email address, set up an account and completed the application form - all in a matter of a few minutes. At the end, he said to me, “Well that was so much easier than taking a ticket and having to wait in a queue for ages”.
On a personal note, the opportunity has helped me further develop my skills which I can take back to my current job or any future roles that I take up with HMRC. Definitely a win-win.