Giffnock couple help others switch on to digital

Digital champions Marie and Charlie Varley
Digital champions Marie and Charlie Varley

A husband and wife team from Giffnock have been recognised for using their digital skills to help their customers and colleagues become more digital-savvy.

Marie and Charlie Varley are development managers working in the retirement sector of FirstPort Property Services Scotland.

Marie works at Homeglen House in Giffnock and Charlie is a relief manager, covering all of Scotland.

The duo are the first FirstPort employees in Scotland to be awarded FirstPort’s prestigious Digital Eagle’s Gold accolade, which recognises its top Digital advocates.

They have been at the forefront of the organisation’s Digital Eagles programme, which benefits residents living in the 11,000 homes managed by FirstPort in Scotland.

Involved in the initiative since it was launched in 2016, Marie and Charlie have supported retired residents who have been nervous about stepping out of their comfort zone and going online.

They have spoken to groups of residents about cyber security and how to be safe online and encouraged residents to pay their service charge or fees for the development’s guest room via online system Sage Pay.

They have also helped residents navigate their tablets and laptops so they can be better connected with family and friends.

Charlie said: “It’s been great to see residents realise the benefits of getting online.

“It has been little steps with some of our residents as they were very nervous about going online, but with a little hand holding, we’re seeing their confidence grow along with their ability.”

The power couple have played an integral part in training fellow development managers and new starters to embrace the online systems designed to make their job easier.

Marie said: “As development managers we have at our disposal digital systems that have been designed to make our job easier and quicker so that we have more time to spend with our residents.

“Many of our colleagues initially felt apprehensive about ditching the paper processes and moving online, so we’ve been there to support them to use the systems and show them the benefits.”

Part of Marie and Charlie’s efforts have also been in helping development managers – who typically work alone in developments – be better connected to their colleagues around the country via Skype for Business and FirstPort’s Yammer platform.

Roger Bodden, regional manager for FirstPort Property Services Scotland, said: “Marie and Charlie’s can-do approach has encouraged colleagues in Scotland to follow in their footsteps and become Digital Eagles too, helping FirstPort in its ambition to create a community of Eagles who can support customers, colleagues, contractors and suppliers.”

And there’s nothing like a bit of husband and wife competitiveness to keep them both ready for the next challenge, with Marie admitting that her pursuit for the Gold accolade stemmed from her not wanting her husband to have the Gold status without her having it too!