Plymouth City Council is launching a £330,000 programme to help its citizens get online.
The Get IT Together campaign is part of BT’s nationwide Connected Society programme and run by the specialist digital inclusion charity Citizens Online. The project will help 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 the 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, leader of Plymouth City Council, said that some people find computers intimidating but the programme would allow them to progress at their own pace.
“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,” said Evans.
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.”
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 online 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.