Monday, 9 December 2013

Lairg Writers Publish Online



In North West Sutherland, BT, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, High Life Highland,  and Citizens Online are working together to deliver the Get IT Together Programme, a community development approach to digital inclusion, helping people across the area to benefit from gaining on line skills.

A team of six writers based at Lairg Learning Centre have launched their very own blog, with support from Get IT Together - NW Sutherland. The writers have been attending basic IT sessions to find out how to share their work online. Although most of the learners attending the sessions use a computer, none of them had tried out blogging.

The group created a very basic site using the online site, blogger – because it most resembles the majority of basic word-processing packages- and learners share access and admin rights to the blog. The central idea, as well as reaching a wider online audience, is that in winter months, when driving becomes a challenge in bad weather, the writers can still share their work together and provide feedback.

Project Coordinator, Irene Warner-Mackintosh, commented: “We are thrilled to be helping these writers to get online and share their creative work with the wider public.”

The writer’s blog called Lairg Loonies can be viewed
here.

Get IT Together in North West Sutherland 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 Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and High Life Highland. 

Blog post by Irene Warner-Mackintosh

Our Digital Zone Hits the Ground Running



In North West Sutherland, BT, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, High Life Highland,  and Citizens Online are working together to deliver the Get IT Together Programme, a community development approach to digital inclusion, helping people across the area to benefit from gaining on line skills.

Our Digital Zone, a roadshow set up to help people in the Highlands and Islands make the most out of digital technology, is underway. To ensure maximum participation the project had a big publicity drive and secured the support of partners who spread the word through their networks. As a result, the first two events in Inverness, held at the Eastgate Centre and Kinmylies Church, were well attended by people interested in getting online.

Local community groups have been enthused by the roadshow and many are now offering classes for local learners, including Elgin Library in Moray who is running free IT taster sessions. 

Irene Warner-Mackintosh, Get IT Together Project Coordinator, commented: “We’re delighted that classes are starting immediately on the back of the roadshow. 

“Our Digital Zone provides a strong strategic platform that allows partnership working. We are already making cross referrals to colleagues within Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and The University of the Highlands and Islands, ensuring that individuals receive more cohesive digital participation support.”


Get IT Together in North West Sutherland 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 Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and High Life Highland. 


Blog post by Irene Warner-Mackintosh

Guerilla Knitting: A Business is Born


In North West Sutherland, BT, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, High Life Highland, and Citizens Online are working together to deliver the Get IT Together Programme, a community development approach to digital inclusion, helping people across the area to benefit from gaining on line skills.

Citizens Online is currently a partner in the exciting project Our Digital Zone, a multi-agency roadshow travelling the Highlands and Islands to highlight the benefits of digital participation, helping people to get online for the first time, as well as supporting local communities to make the most of the internet.

As part of Our Digital Zone the team offered a session at Kinmylies Church in Inverness called ‘Guerilla Knitting’, hoping to draw in people with a passion for crafting and teach them about websites such as Ravelry and Etsy.

To this end, Project Coordinator Irene Warner-Mackintosh took a call from Lorna, who, when booking her place, stated that she hated the internet and computers, but knew she had to give it a go because she loved knitting. This was her reason for going online for the first time and she was interested to see what the internet had to offer. 

Lorna arrived at the session with a bag of beautiful knitted items- felted bags, gorgeous gloves and glamorous hats. She was partnered with digital champion Lizi Sutherland who showed her how to get online and use the internet effectively.  Lorna was very interested as she wants to start a business to sell her handmade products online. 

By the end of the session Lorna was enthused. To find out more about setting up her business she will be visiting the HIE Digital Team for social media support, and Business Gateway for business advice. Everyone is excited to see what happens next. 

Get IT Together in North West Sutherland 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 Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and High Life Highland. 

Blog post by Irene Warner-Mackintosh

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Some people just need a break

Volunteer Callum secures employment
Sometimes you meet someone who you know full well has so much to give to a prospective employer that you would like to talk to them and explain why they should take this person on, Callum is one of those people.

Callum joined Get Caerphilly Online as a volunteer in December 2012 just in time for the launch of our Digital Fridays sessions in Caerphilly libraries.  As someone who was poached from “out of county” Callum’s best location was Blackwood due to a direct bus link from his home.  With excellent IT skills Callum patiently supported everyone with their digital needs who come into our busiest Digital Fridays location.

As Callum got used to other members of the team he expressed an interest in taking on additional volunteer hours in an administrative capacity to develop his experience of the workplace.  Luckily we were able to host him at our (Wales Co-operative Centre) office in Abercynon, just a short train journey up from his home.  Prompt with excellent communication, Callum was always keen to come in and help out and learn.  He blended well into the team but thinking about it I’m unsure whether he ever made a cup of tea hmmmm and did everything that was asked of him and more, trying out different designs and bringing new ideas to the table.

It was clear that if he could get interviews and be himself, which is hard for most people in interview he would soon get that break.  He never gave in and after only 8 months with us he landed his first permanent job.  While sad to see any volunteer leave that is exactly why we do it.  Volunteering is about giving someone a worthwhile experience and one that they get something from whether that is experience, the pleasure of helping others or socialising.  People like Callum deserve success; doing all they can to get on, persevering until they achieve that break.

It is also nice to keep in touch and check how things are going, this is what Callum had to say: “I'm very grateful for the voluntary opportunity I had with GCO which led to additional volunteering in the office of their partner organisation Communities 2.0. Without it I wouldn't be working in the field I've been trying to get a job in for well over a year so a huge thank you to the GCO team and to Matt for allowing me to work in the office. It was great working with everyone as they are all so friendly and I could be myself around them which I think is really important when participating in a project such as this. I will miss you all and I hope you help many more people to get online and discover the benefits and importance of technology in our ever-changing world!”

Blog post by Matthew Lloyd, Communities 2.0 ICT Broker for Caerphilly

Get IT Together - Caerphilly is a partnership between Citizens Online; BT, through their Connected Society programme; Caerphilly Council, Communities 2.0 and Get Caerphilly Online (part of Communities 2.0).

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Four million households in the UK are still not connected to the internet, according to the Office for National Statistics

In Bristol, BT and Bristol City Council and Citizens Online are working together to run the Get IT Together Programme, a community development approach to digital inclusion.

Pete Britten  an apprentice from Get It Together – Bristol shares a summary of recent research published by The Office for National Statistics.

 
The Office for National Statistic’s data said the majority, 59%, of those unconnected said they simply did not need to be online.
 
Twenty per cent said they lacked the skills to get online, while another 10% said they could not afford it.
 
The ONS figures have shown that the amount of people getting online over the age of 65 has increased to 37% this year, up from 9% in 2006.
Figures also show that internet usage on mobile devices has increased from 24% in 2010, to 53% this year. Increased mobile connection speeds have helped boost the number of people getting online.
 
The data shows us that there have been significant improvements in Digital Inclusion over the last several years. However, there is still crucial work to be done to ensure people are not excluded. We need to provide ongoing training and support to people, and make sure there is affordable IT equipment, and broadband connections, available to those who need it.
Other figures from the ONS data:
 
  • 70% of adults use a computer every day, up from 45% in 2006. For those aged 65 and over, this figure rose from 9% to 37%.
  • The majority of households with children – and those made up of three or more adults – are hooked up to the web (97%).
  • More than half of adults (55%) go online to read or download newspapers and magazines, compared with 20% in 2007. Those aged 25 to 34 (72%) are most likely to turn to the net for news. This figure stands at 49% for 55 to 64-year-olds.
  • More than half (53%) of adults use social networks, up from 48% last year. Almost all of those aged 16 to 24 (93%) visit the likes of Facebook or Twitter. For those aged 45 to 54, this figure is 50%.
  • There has been “significant growth” in the number of people who sell goods or services online. In 2007, only one in 10 adults used sites such as eBay or Gumtree. This has more than doubled in the past six years to 28%.
  • Almost three-quarters (72%) of adults say they bought goods or services online this year – up on 53% in 2008. While younger age groups have traditionally embraced internet shopping, there has been “significant growth” among pensioners. More than a third of those aged 65 and over (36%) shopped online this year – more than double the 2008 estimate of 16%. 
  • Almost all of those aged 16 to 24 (94%) have used a gadget to access the net “on the go”, compared with 17% of those aged 65 and over.
  • Over a fifth (21%) of 16 to 24-year-olds use a games console or eBook reader to connect away from home or work. This figure stands at 10% for 45 to 54-year-olds and 11% for all adults.
  • Three-quarters (76%) of those aged 25 to 34 access their bank accounts online. For adults of all age groups, the figure is 50%.
  • The internet has become a “key tool” for jobseekers. Two thirds (67%) of unemployed adults said they looked for a job or submitted an application online this year.
Get IT Together in Bristol 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 Bristol City Council.




 



 

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Pilot tablet course with over 55's in Bristol great success

In Bristol, BT and Bristol City Council and Citizens Online are working together to run the Get IT Together Programme, a community development approach to digital inclusion.

Get IT Together – Bristol has also been working with partner organisation, the Dolphin Society which aims to support independent living for the elderly.


Throughout June and July 2013, Get IT Together – Bristol ran a seven week beginners iPad course at Charities Day Centre in Henbury. The iPads were kindly loaned from The Dolphin Society.

The course showed learners how to use iPads; navigate the internet; online shopping; setting up calendars, and how to Skype friends.  The course had nine learner aged from 62-years-old to 81-years-old. The learners had never used a tablet before and two of the learners had never used a computer before.

As a result of the course, five of the learners have now got their own iPad either through buying them at a reduced rate from the Dolphin Society or purchasing them themselves. 

Ivor took the course to keep up with his three grandchildren who enjoy using computers. He commented “I have been using the iPads to send emails, find directions, read books and set up a library.” Ivor also uses his iPad to play bingo during the evening.

For information on other Get IT Together – Bristol courses, please visit http://bristol-getittogether.btck.co.uk/

Learners, Ivor and Caroline shared their experiences of the course and getting online with us. To watch the YouTube videos, please click on the links below.



Get IT Together in Bristol 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 Bristol City Council.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Kevin O’Malley talks to Bristol volunteers about the importance of their support

In Bristol, Citizens Online are partnering with BT and Bristol City Council to run the Get IT Together Programme.

As part of the Get IT Together – Bristol project, volunteers run 11 free beginners’ computer courses throughout Bristol each week. In April 2013, Kevin O’Malley, Manager of the Future City team at Bristol City Council spoke at the bi-annual Bristol Volunteers Thank you and Best Practice Day about the importance of volunteering. The transcript of that talk follows.

 “Hi, I’m Kevin O’Malley and my work involves helping Bristol to be at the forefront of digital inclusion, highlighting and addressing the barriers people have to getting online.  

There are three main barriers to getting online; equipment, connectivity and skills.

Volunteers at the Citizens Online computer courses play a vital role in addressing this issue of skills and that’s why I’ve come here today to say thank you to you all for the time and enthusiasm you are putting into helping people get online.

With welfare reforms coming in and people having to get online to access essential services it is becoming a bit problem for some people who don’t have the skills, as well as the other barriers mentioned.

Some people don’t have the connectivity and there are lots of reasons for that; very expensive or having to sign up to long term contracts. 

Maybe they don’t have the kit, getting the kit without the knowledge of what to buy or get something that’s useful to you, is very difficult.

Having the computer skills is the thing that I think is most valuable, giving the people the skills and the confidence, without that people are going to become more and more disadvantaged.

Organisations like government and city councils move towards more digital services as it’s cheaper to relate to people online, so the obligation is for people to be able communicate more in that way. Businesses have been doing it for a long time, if you want to buy a ticket to go on Easy Jet or Ryan Air you need a digital connection.

My fear is we are already going to find people that are disadvantaged in lots of different ways, more disadvantaged by not having the skills to get online, and this is a fantastic program that is really making a difference. Nationally this is one of the most effective, and highly respected, programs of this kind and I know we couldn’t have done it here in Bristol without you guys delivering it.

I suppose the thing for me is getting down to the human stories and the differences this makes to people’s lives, just to be able to think there are hundreds of people now in the city today who are able to Skype their relatives abroad because of the work that you guys do, and I just wanted to say thanks very much, it’s really important and valuable stuff.”

 

 

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Some thoughts on Digital Inclusion and Digital by Default

I recently attended Digital Inclusion and Engagement: Digital by default and ND2013. Both conferences have offered interesting insights, and differing opinions, on the subject of Digital Inclusion.

Firstly, here are some of figures highlighting the extent of digitally exclusion in this Country:

  • 1.2 million young people
  • 1.5 million 25-50 year olds
  • 2.5 million late middle age people
  • 10.6 million have never used the internet
  • 2.6 million have no access to broadband
So what’s being done about it?

DWP have been taking to Twitter, and turning their job centres into “Apple-like stores”, to give people more freedom digitally and give more up to date info on smartphones and tablets. This has proven successful to a degree, but the elderly and disabled are struggle to benefit from it as they don’t have the ability to get to job centres, or the skills to use social media.

Helen Goodman MP, shadow minister for media, believes that Government should be spending more money on Digital inclusion. Things that she suggests include; opening more ‘drop in centres’, getting large corporations to provide ICT kit, giving local authorities more resources and giving more power to Ofcom to stop overpriced broadband bundles.

These are steps in the right direction, but not a complete solution. As Helen Milner from UK Online Centres said, “Digital Inclusion is all about the people”. Not enough is being done to engage with the really hard to get to people. Digital Inclusion is more than just giving people access to online benefits, it’s about tackling problems that the excluded face on a day to day basis, such as social isolation.

A recent NHS report says that being lonely has the same impact on your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Citizens Online and Bristol City Council are working with the community to give people the confidence as well as the  skills, kit and the connectivity they need to make social connections digitally, as well as buy products or access government service online. For more information visit http://bristol-getittogether.btck.co.uk/

Blog written by Pete Britten. Pete is Computer Reuse Scheme Coordinator for Bristol City Council, and project admin for Bristol Get IT Together computer courses.