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The Digital Bees

03 June 2020

Formed over six months ago, the Digital Bees have gone from strength to strength, improving the awareness of the digital world and helping others in all aspects of 'digital'.

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Becky Franks has been a Digital Bee from its inception back in September 2019. She remembers the time when they didn’t have a name and they hadn’t determined what the focus of their work was.

“A few bank colleagues knew that we wanted to help others feel more at home with all things digital. Getting others involved and planning what we could do then came together quickly.

Jump forward to June 2020 and, even with lock down ruling our lives, the Digital Bees are hard at work planning their next action with weekly Zoom calls and a flood of outstanding ideas.

Although there is a core team of Digital Bees who attend most meetings and roll up their sleeves for all events, Becky is keen to point out that being a Digital Bee is not a full-time role.

“I think this is because helping with the Bees is very flexible.” says Becky. “If you can help for an hour once month and that’s all you can manage that’s brilliant. If you want to dip in and out that’s also fine.

There is no pressure. We wanted it to be something fun and enjoyable, not something you feel guilty for not supporting with for a few weeks or months because you have been busy!

With so many bank colleagues involved, it means we need a little commitment from everyone. Every bit of help is so appreciated.”

Spreading the digital word

The Digital Bees group was originally set up to help share what the bank’s digital department is doing both internally and externally.

The Bees then focused on how The Co-operative Bank’s Digital team could support the local community with all the expert knowledge and skills they have. How do the Digital Bees define their success, though?

“Our success is based on the relationships we are building”, says Becky, “and the positive feedback we receive and awareness of the Digital Bees all round.

I feel we have succeeded when different teams approach us and ask us to help out and we can!

An excellent example is the time when our bank branches asked us if we could help them host Digital drop in sessions. This came about after the tremendous success of our Digital Drop In at Manchester’s Central Library in early 2020.

We’ve helped support students when asked by an external organisation to talk about working in digital and we also gave a helping hand to a local community when they wanted to become more digitally savvy.

All this shows that people can really see the value in what we are doing because we get so many requests for our help.

It’s so rewarding and everyone who has got involved with the Digital Bees have all played their part in making it the success it is after just 6 months!” 

Getting ready to celebrate 

Looking towards the future for the Digital Bees could be seen as a bit of a tall order during 2020, with restrictions and lockdown affecting what they can deliver. Becky is keen to point out that it’s still full steam ahead though.

“We’ll be celebrating our first birthday in September and hope to host a birthday party with all the connections we’ve made over the first 12 months", says Becky with an enormous smile. “It’ll be like the first external event we organised back in October 2019.

And we’ll continue to support students in Schools, Colleges and Universities and running more Digital drop-in events, within in our branches.

Also in 2020 we’ll be speaking at events and getting more involved in the Digital community.

And we’ll be sharing videos and helpful resources online and much more!

We are always open to original ideas and suggestions. The Digital Bees don’t have a set plan as we are constantly finding fresh opportunities and significant things we can support and get involved with.”

Becky loves her involvement with the Digital Bees and has been with them right from the start. What’s it like to be a new Digital Bee though? Josie Linsel has recently joined in with the weekly meetings to find out more. 

“The Digital Bees interested me because it seems like there’s lots of outstanding work supporting young people into digital at the Bank” says Josie.

“It’s also great that the Bees are encouraging women and girls into digital roles as many are technical and more commonly occupied by men.

The work to raise the profile of the Bank within Manchester’s digital community is interesting for me too on a personal level.

At the moment I get information from the Digital Bees about what initiatives are ongoing. I should have joined earlier!”

The Digital Bees can be contacted at digitalbees@co-operativebank.co.uk

 

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