Clapton Common Boys Club offers extra-curricular activities and opportunities for marginalised children and young people in Hackney and Haringey.
At the end of 2021, the organisation was awarded a grant of £9,284 to provide IT and basic functional skills training to 45 boys aged 13-16 years who were digitally illiterate and at risk of not being in education, employment or training. It went on to produce a culturally appropriate programme spanning 38 weeks, which included online safety training, introductions to Office apps and Outlook, and weekly mentoring from a personal coach.
This was the first time the organisation had provided digital skills training, and it came about as a direct response from consultations with teachers, headteachers and young people. They also conducted their own survey to which 40 local families responded. From this they discovered that 80% of families did not own or have access to IT or digital technology, and for a quarter of the families this was due to cultural sensitivities. There was also a concern from many parents who wanted to shield their children from external exposures. To reassure them, Clapton Common Boys Club created a training programme which featured a robust level of cyber safety and child filtering techniques, and ensured all of the sessions were supervised.
Due to limited access to the internet and technology in general, using the typical mainstream programmes was not an option for the young people.
Although not an intended outcome of the training, two of the students took to the subject very well and went on to job-shadow a software programmer, while four other students managed to secure work placements at established businesses where they did data entry and honed their basic work skills. There were also several boys with special educational needs and disabilities; after considered adjustments to the teaching sessions, they overcame their challenges, achieved great success and importantly felt fully part of their student cohort.
This project had the dual aim of giving functional, vocational and social digital skills training to 45 young people, while also developing their resilience, self-belief and confidence, things that had been severely diminished during the Covid pandemic.
Reflecting on the project, Trustee Ahron Klein said: “We thought outside the box to establish Just IT to meet our young people’s needs. Having now tried and tested this with proven success, we intend to continue the project in the future. We are grateful to the WCIT Charity for their belief in us to create this project and change.”