We know that the pandemic has exacerbated digital inequalities. But it’s not just a case of getting people connected to the internet; it’s about giving them the skills and confidence to use it too.
For several years, the WCIT Charity has supported the iReach digital skills training project run by Thames Reach, a charity dedicated to helping people escape homelessness.
For their clients in particular, not being able to use a computer is a huge barrier. Whether it’s applying for a job, submitting a benefits claim or looking for the most affordable electricity supplier, most vital services can now only be accessed online.
Through the iReach workshop, people with little or no IT skills are given practical help to get online quickly. Here’s how one individual was helped…
JF had been a driver for 40 years, but when the pandemic hit he was unable to continue his work abroad and lost his job. Despite being good at what he did, he struggled to find another job as he was unable to search and apply for work online.
JF was referred to the iReach workshop where he was shown how to use his smartphone to register with recruitment sites. As JF was not familiar with London beyond his immediate neighbourhood, he learnt how Google Maps could show where, and how far away, potential employers were located. After just a couple of weeks his confidence grew and he started applying for jobs.
When he was asked to upload some documents for one interested organisation, he returned to Thames Reach for further assistance. They helped him straightaway and shortly after that impromptu session he was offered the job. JF was delighted to start his new role two days later.
Since their inception, these digital skills workshops have enabled people to reconnect with family and friends via email or social media, given people the self-confidence to volunteer and access training, and given people the chance to find employment.