Jessica Tompkinson and Alan Parker: Discovery with Three

Estimated reading time:7 minutes, 3 seconds

Everyone has a story. Thanks to the Discovery space that opened above the mobile provider Three’s store on Islington High Street in March 2016, 2,000 more people are ace at using their smart phones, iPads and all sorts of apps. Meet the duo Jessica Tompkinson and Alan Parker behind this inspiring community engagement and find out how you can join free digital skills sessions. Interview by Nicola Baird

Jessica Tompkinson and Alan Parker, trainers at Discovery with 3 - free mobile phone know-how at Angel. (c) Islington Faces

Jessica Tompkinson and Alan Parker, trainers at Discovery with Thee – free mobile phone know-how at Angel. (c) Islington Faces

If you are not an Apple or Android know-it-all – and would like to use more of the features on your device, or find out more about apps – then you are going to love what Discovery with Three is offering. In the Blue Room (for 15) and the Red Room (for groups of up to 30) above the Three phone shop at Angel, on Islington High Street, around 38 free sessions are run every week. If you already know your on line basics and are wedded to Facebook or Twitter they may still be able to help you by offering bespoke sessions for schools, clubs, businesses and community groups. There’s no catch: you don’t even need to be a Three customer, or live in Islington.

Courses range from the absolute basics of using a smart phone or iPad (popular with 55+) to blogging and vlogging, through to using Facebook if you’re a small business, digital job hunting or getting clever with music via an app like GarageBand.

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Not surprisingly the Discovery with Three sessions are popular. The first Discovery was opened in Maidenhead in 2014, where Three’s head office is. Then in 2016 two more centres were opened, one in Islington and the other in Swansea.

“I looked at hundreds of high streets across the Country, but we picked Islington because it is so conveniently located on a really great high street,” says Jessica Tompkinson, Community Engagement Manager who spends time at all the Discovery centres but is huge fan of Upper Street. It’s clear she’d like to live in Islington.


Tips to keep your phone (& info) safe provided by Discovery with Three

  1. Leave it in your pocket or in your bag when you are at the tube station. Phones are such an easy thing to snatch, especially if you’ve got ear phones in. The thieves target you when you are distracted – like crossing the road.
  2. Set up pin protection. You can use a number, a code swipe or a fingerprint so that your phone locks after 30 seconds.
  3. Both Apple and Android have a Find my phone and Delete my phone functionality built in which you can use remotely if your phone is lost or stolen.
  4. Android and Apple devices can be linked to cloud storage. This means when your phone is gone you have not lost everything. Just remember to back up regularly and should something happen to your phone you can pull all this information back on to your new device.

When Discovery opened in March 2016 Jessica contacted the council and was soon involved with its Digital Inclusion Event. The team have also worked with providing support and sessions to UrbanHope, Islington Carers’ Hub, Barnsbury Housing and St Stephen’s Church Group, as well as groups outside the borough. “Since March we’ve worked with more than 2,000 people here in Islington,” says Jessica adding that, “Social housing providers and the smaller charities and groups in the area have embraced us although local schools have been more of a challenge to engage with. In Swansea we work with so many schools that we are booked up until February, and I’d love this to be the same here.” But Jessica’s hoping that will change as the word gets out.

“We’ll be running sessions for adults and their children over the school holidays (from 19-23 Dec and after Christmas) which you can book now. All our sessions are free to attend, and are a couple of hours of good fun,” adds Jessica. To attend just go to

Lee from Discovery with Three - the third member of the team. (c) islington faces

Lee is the third member of the Discovery with Three team in Islington.

Meet Alan
If you decide to book a session at Discovery you are certain to meet Alan Parker who has taught 100s of courses since being open – and most weeks runs 38 sessions in IslingtonDiscovery.. “We do see a lot of people from different cultures and back grounds here so I find it is very different on a day to day basis. And we know we are reaching out to a lot of people,” says Alan, 42.

“The courses give people confidence and assurance to pick up a smart phone and use it. People often go to a family member for advice and that person says ‘give it to me’ and just does it. These courses empower people to use technology themselves.”

The result is a lot of happy people.

“We get showered with gifts,” says Alan. “People find it unbelievable that the sessions are free. People are incredibly generous! Most gifts are sugar – biscuits, cakes, Toblerone and sweets but we also get fresh fruit, including lots of pineapples. One lady found out I’ve got cats and if she enjoys a session she comes with a packet of cat treats!”

Bubbleology (c) islington faces

Bubbleology is enjoyed by the Discovery Three team (c) islington faces

Places the Discovery team like going in Islington

  • The Albion in Barnsbury. (c) islington faces

    The Albion in Barnsbury. (c) islington faces

    Snacks: Alan Parker: ”I’m partial to bubbletea – it reintroduced me to tapioca and brought back fond memories of when I was a child. I also like the frozen yoghurt at Pink Berry. Jessica Tompkinson:Bubbleology, 64 Upper Street!”

  • Lunch: Alan: “I like anything with ham at the Angel Deli sandwich shop in Chapel Market.
  • Pubs: Alan: “I’m a lover of ale. I like the Nag’s Head on 12 Upper Street and also want to go to Brewhouse & Kitchen, which has its own microbrewery on Torrens Street just by Angel tube.” Jessica: “We’re spoilt for choice with pubs in Islington. The Albion, 10 Thornhill Road, in Barnsbury is amazing.”
  • Socialising: Jessica: “I love Upper Street especially Fredericks, where the cocktails are incredible and its right opposite Discovery for our Friday after work drinks.”
Reassuring message at Discovery with Three. (c) islington faces

Reassuring message at Discovery with Three enjoyed by Islington Faces on the Dropbox and Instagram course. Our next plan is to go to the Lightroom app training in December. (c) islington faces

Sessions for you and your child
There are a huge range of courses (Islington Faces is going to try the Dropbox and Instagram) but also look out for school holiday sessions where families can bring their kids along. During the summer this included coding and podcasting. “One day the youngest I taught was six-years-old and the oldest an 89-year-old blogger – it was really good knowing that everyone can learn something new,” adds Alan.

“We’ll be running sessions for adults and their children over the school holidays (from 19-23 Dec and after Christmas) which you can book now. All our sessions are free to attend, and are a couple of hours of good fun,” adds Jessica. To attend just go to

  • Thank you to Islington Faces reader, Ceinwen, who attended three of the early Discovery courses to find out how best to use her “new android phone”, and then suggested that this would make a good interview. If you enjoyed reading this interview, please do add a comment, or make a suggestion about who you’d like to see interviewed in the future.
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Over to you
If you’d like to nominate someone to be interviewed who grew up, lives or works in Islington, or suggest yourself, please let me know, via at Thank you.

If you enjoyed this post you might like to look at the A-Z  index, or search by interviewee’s roles or Meet Islingtonians to find friends, neighbours and inspiration. Thanks for stopping by. Nicola