Marius Jennings works within the Connecting Bristol team as our digital inclusion co-ordinator.
He develops and delivers the Get IT Together in Bristol project to help people previously unable to use IT get the confidence and skills to use computers and the internet. He has just completed year one of a three-year secondment from the Citizens Online charity, funded by BT.
I’m in the Council House this morning, but my day can start anywhere in Bristol as we deliver training across the city.
Our courses are for people most likely to be disadvantaged around computer use. These include disabled people, those on means tested benefits, older people and carers. We take people from the very basics – powering up and logging on, mouse and keyboard use, through to doing web searches, email and using online services.
This morning I make some calls to volunteers. They’re crucial in delivering our training and we’ve around 25 active people involved.
It’s also a chance to catch up with Connecting Bristol team colleagues and talk through some work with Pete Britten. Pete is a council apprentice who is now working with me, which is great as I’ve been flying solo for a year!
We discuss the waiting list – we try to respond to people’s requests for training quickly, but there’s often a wait. We’re also sorting out Pete’s role in the council’s Computer Reuse Scheme. This scheme reconditions redundant PCs and provides them for a nominal charge to people who would not otherwise be able to afford a computer.
After a quick coffee I walk over to the Central Library. We’ve a course running there next week. We have a strong relationship with Bristol Libraries. They’ve been very supportive in finding us space and helping promote the training.
Lunchtime I’m in Fishponds. I’m trying to locate another course venue. We know there is local demand and need to get a course running here. The Vassal Centre is already hosting some training for disabled people, but we need another option.
By the afternoon I’m down in south Bristol at a Jennings Court, a Housing 21 sheltered housing scheme, not named after me! I’ve been leading a course here for the last few weeks. A couple of volunteers are involved. Ideally our course ratio would be one-to-one, but that’s not possible. Today we’ll have seven trainees.
It’s a great to see people get over their computer fears and begin to benefit from IT. Our current group are set to use the internet to stay in touch with friends, develop their interests and access services.
After the session I check emails and update some reports on the scheme’s overall performance – looking back we had a good first year. One hundred and thirty people trained, several hundred more supported to get training or computer access elsewhere and we found 15 training locations around the city. Those figures are still rising and that’s what funders and the council want reported on and that’s what I’ll do – online of course…
If you know someone who may benefit from these courses or you’re interested in volunteering, contact Marius on 07785 462 568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org