In Leeds, BT, Leeds City Council and Citizens Online are working together to deliver the Get IT Together Programme, a community development approach to digital inclusion, helping people in Leeds to benefit from gaining online skills.
Emily Harper is the Programme Manager for Get IT Together, she told us: “I often meet people who feel that the Internet isn’t for them, that they can’t learn the skills needed to get online, or that it costs too much. In Leeds we have worked hard over the last three years to try to change that.”
She continues: “Digital skills are so important, they can help you stay in your home as you get older; do better at school; help you find a job and earn more money; compare prices and save money; and stay in touch with family, friends and the local community.”
BT and Citizens Online conducted research that shows that the social value of being online for a new internet user is £1,064. This comes from having more confidence, making financial savings online, new job seeking skills and a reduction in social isolation. So there’s no better time to be a good digital neighbour and help someone get online.
The libraries in Leeds recently opened up their wifi services so that anyone with a Smartphone or tablet can get online, free of charge. Get IT Together has provided the mobile library bus with iPads and a mifi device for the public to use. Over the summer, 4,400 parents and children were able to have a go on the internet during free IT taster events.
Get IT Together has worked closely with existing community groups, including LS14 Digital Lounge in Leeds. The Digital Lounge is a great place for those who are looking for work, need help with their homework, or just want to access a computer.
Chris, one of the tutors there has been invaluable in providing support for those who need a bit of extra help. He has helped people find work by supporting their CV writing, showing them how to use universal job match, and how to set up emails accounts.
The local volunteers who have worked with Get IT Together have been fantastic and the project couldn’t have helped as many people online without them. They really understand the needs of those who are offline, and are now setting up a social enterprise together to offer digital skills training and awareness events in the local community after Get IT Together comes to an end.
Over the three years the project has been running in Leeds, we’ve trained over 1,300 people with basic digital skills. We’ve learnt a great deal about how to deliver digital inclusion, and the importance of working closely with partners to join up support. We’ve summarised our findings in a White Paper. We hope that the work we’ve done will continue through the partners we’ve supported, and the tutors and volunteers that we’ve trained.
Get IT Together in Leeds is supported by BT’s Connected Society programme, BT’s commitment to help people right around the world gain the skills and confidence they need to join the online community and Leeds City Council.
If you want to find out more contact Steve Thompson on mobile no: 07780480968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website is www.citizensonline.org.uk and our Leeds Facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Citizens-Online-Leeds/589143317771147