One of the largest projects in the UK to help people get online and build their digital skills and confidence has launched in Plymouth.
The Get IT Together project is a £330,000 initiative in the city which is part of BT’s nationwide Connected Society programme and run by the specialist digital inclusion charity Citizens Online. It helps people to gain online skills and confidence so they can benefit fully from the internet.
The three-year project is led by the Council and has been funded by city partners including BT, Plymouth Community Homes, the Plymouth Health Community and Jobcentre Plus.
Group sessions are already being held where people can learn at their own pace and get familiar with internet and the opportunities it opens up. Many more are being planned for the thousands of local people who are not confident using computers and want to learn how to get online.
Around 38,000 city homes are not yet connected to the internet and as time goes on, people risk missing opportunities for education, work, access to council and health services.
Councillor Tudor Evans said: “We are a co-operative council and believe in working together to help improve the lives of people in Plymouth.
“We know that some people find computers intimidating, but we make sure they can get to grips with the basics at their own pace and see where it takes them. It could take them to new work, to considerable savings in heating their homes and using online health and welfare services.
“It’s the way the world is going and we want to take people with us, not leave them behind.”
Paul Coles, Regional Programmes Manager for BT, who played a major role in the foundation of the three year Plymouth project, said: “Not being able to use the internet can leave people isolated and disadvantaged. We’re committed to helping people in Plymouth get online and get the most out of the internet. This is the first exciting step in a journey to help people benefit from the online world.”
Representatives from the private, public and voluntary sectors who specialise in health, welfare benefits, education, employment and training, IT and community development will be at the event to hear how Get IT Together Plymouth is going so far and what plans are in the pipeline
Lena Santoro, the project co-ordinator for Get IT Together Plymouth, will be talking about courses such as the North Prospect Community Learning delivering IT courses focused around job search and Plymouth Advice Centre for Employment which are delivering basic IT sessions for learners. Other delivery includes sessions with Library Services and Plymouth Community Homes.
As part of a recent Get Online Week, Get IT Together Plymouth worked with Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau and Plympton Library to help local residents learn basic IT skills and shop on-line for the best deals. Learners were also shown the best ways to stay safe online as many of them had expressed concerns about online fraud.
Lena added: “We want to get people comfortable and familiar with the technology that is now part of everyday life. We can help them get to grips with Facebook, Twitter, online shopping and see the benefits of using computers – which in turn increases their skills – painlessly!”
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