TOSH Creative Start Up Programme: Meet Programme Partner, the Digital Skills Hub

"I'd like to think the Digital Skills Hub is more than just some service we're providing, but part of a greater thing - changing the perception of Boscombe and turning it into what it has so much potential to be". Read the inspiring thoughts of Oliver Roberts, from the DSH - our Start Up Programme Partner!

Introducing our fabulous neighbours, the Digital Skills Hub! The DSH are very generously supporting our Creative Start Up Programme by funding our 1-to-1 tutorials, a key element of the programme. But who are they, and what do they do? I sat down with Oliver, the Communications lead at DSH and asked these very questions, PLUS why they partnered with us at TOSH, and what they envisage for the future of Boscombe.

Who are you, and what do you do at the Digital Skills Hub?

I’m Oliver, and I’m the Communications lead at the Digital Skills Hub. Previously, I was a journalist for 20 years in South Africa, and I worked for the Sunday Times as a features writer and photographer.

How can the Digital Skills Hub benefit our community?

The Digital Skills Hub is a centre for residents and businesses to receive free support.

For our residents we provide workshops and drop ins, such as our Tuesday Community Connect, where we have the Job Centre, the National Careers Service, and CTECH available for career guidance. This could be help with CVs, job searching, volunteering opportunities. The response to this has been amazing, we have literal queues of people waiting to be seen.

We also offer ESOL classes for employability, BCHA run a beginners and an intermediate digital skills course with us, and we hold money saving and budgeting workshops - so just a lot of community help.

For businesses, we have Business Connect Mondays every week from 1pm-4pm. A representative from the Federation of Small Businesses, as well as the very digital savvy Dr. Phil Wilkinson, together offer a drop in service for business advice and a social media and website review.

We’re now hosting events too - we did an event towards the end of last year on ai, a panel discussion that was really well attended. We hosted an employer's breakfast about the labour market in 2024 and recruitment strategies, super helpful for small businesses.

What are the key missions for the Digital Skills Hub?

Digital exclusion is a huge issue that we’re tackling. It's about giving people the skills and access, enabling confidence in people.

We’re always trying to create more conversation among the independent business owners here in Boscombe - more mutual support. 

We want people to feel excited, happy and proud about living in Boscombe. Representing it in a positive way just like TOSH does is part of our mission.

What made you decide to partner up with TOSH for the Creative Start Up Programme?

We want to keep creating and encouraging that sense of community and togetherness. We love the idea of everybody helping each other out, and understanding the struggles together. 

I’ve seen a lot of business owners struggle because they don't want to admit that they're in trouble - they need peer support. I think the Start Up Programme acts as a confidential, safe space where anybody can actually say that they don't know what they're doing - know that it’s okay to feel that way - and then work through it together.

What does your dream Boscombe look like? 

I feel like the thing that sets Boscombe apart is its edgy vibe - it’s like the bad boy sibling of Southbourne and Westbourne! Like many of us, I’m motivated to change the attitudes and perceptions of it, particularly for the residents themselves. 

I'd like Boscombe to become a really renowned creative and artistic hub. I think that's really what it's got going for it - with BEAF festival, all the independent creative businesses here, the street art etc. 

It's definitely got the potential to really become a centre for art and creativity, and I think it's heading in that direction. 

Once people start feeling proud about where they live and excited about where they live, they start behaving differently. That's how it starts.

I'd like to think the Digital Skills Hub is more than just some service we're providing, but part of a greater thing - changing the perception of Boscombe and turning it into what it has so much potential to be.

Find out more about the Digital Skills Hub and all that they offer here.

Find out more about our new and improved Start Up Programme 2024, and apply, here!

Not quite sure if it's for you? Come along to our FREE Open Evening TOMORROW NIGHT!