Spotlight on Red Chair Highland

Posted: 10 August 2023, in Member Spotlight

We’re delighted to be joined for our latest spotlight by Red Chair Highland, a Digital Inclusion social enterprise who provide services across the Highlands. They aim to improve Digital Inclusion, overall wellbeing and reduced isolation for vulnerable individuals including older adults, those on benefits, recently released from prison, suffering from substance misuse, refugees and those experiencing homelessness.

We spoke to Kevin Hendry at Red Chair Highland, to find out more about what they do, other projects, plans for the year and tips for other social enterprises.

What’s your social and/or environmental mission?

Our mission seeks to provide Digital Inclusion services across the Highlands. By distributing devices and offering support, we hope to improve people’s online access and strengthen their abilities. Our work is proudly underpinned by a sustainable ethos, contributing to the circular economy by utilising refurbished devices.

How do you do it?

We engage with a variety of groups, including older adults, disabled people and care-experienced youth. Our work is delivered in an individualised way, using support methods such as 1-1 sessions, drop-ins, device allocation, resources and group workshops. Our work spans from in-house activities at our digital hub, to outreach sessions across the Highlands, to remote support.

Why should someone buy/use your product/services?

We are proud to be leaders in Digital Inclusion in the Highlands, having gained expertise through our work. We have a team of friendly, fully trained digital champions and a robust network of referrers that can link clients to us. We offer individualised support, tailoring our services to personal needs. We can be found in our hub or out in the community.

What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur?

We love what we do and are passionate about finding each individual’s “hook” that sparks an interest in accessing the internet. Seeing someone improve in confidence each week is incredibly rewarding. In today’s increasingly digital world, Digital Inclusion is very important so that nobody gets left behind.

What is the current focus for your social enterprise?

Since the pandemic Red Chair streamlined our focus to centre on Digital Inclusion. Covid exposed the level of digital exclusion here in the Highlands and we are motivated to bridge the digital divide. We also still run occasional creative (creative packs for marginalised groups) and environmental (grow your own kits, reducing food waste) projects.

What exciting things do you have coming up?

We have a number of exciting projects in the works. We have just received our first batch of devices for a second round of the National DeviceBank (Good Things Foundation). We have a variety of community outreach sessions planned for later this year and hope to find funding for more device projects

Who do you want to work with more?

We are delivering a research project for Ofcom at the moment, with a focus on reaching as many older adults (55+) as possible. We would love to expand our work to support as many overlooked groups as possible. Those affected by homelessness, criminal justice system, alcohol and substance misuse and refugees.

What’s your biggest challenge?

As a not-for-profit, funding is an ongoing challenge. We are always seeking funding for both devices and core costs. We have also found that we can often secure funding for laptops, chromebooks or tablets but it has proved challenging to source reliable funding for smartphones. We feel a phone is not a luxury, it is essential, especially in today’s ever more digital world.

Where do you see your organisation in 5 years?

After pivoting our focus to Digital Inclusion, we have seen our work grow in scale, geographical reach and impact. We hope to continue this growth over the next 5 years to become a leader in the sector and expand outwith the Highlands, continuing to operate under democratic governance with continued team development.

What top tips would you give to other social enterprises?

Don’t give up! Third sector can be challenging but also incredibly rewarding. Work with your team, make democratic decisions. Get yourself out there. Make the most of networking opportunities and social media. Focus on your strengths and what you do well.`

More information:

Red Chair Highland is a finalist in the Tech For Good Award Category in the Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2023. Visit here for more.

Red Chair Highland is currently expanding our enterprise activity through device provision to public sector organisations and community digital outreach sessions. We also raise income from creative packs for mental health services. We also do not for profit pat testing services and graphic design for smaller charities, social enterprises and organisations.   

For more information about Red Chair Highland, please visit their website and make sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter/X to keep updated with their work.

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