How Cambridge Online is helping everyone stay connected
Charity provides learner sessions
A Cambridge charity is opening up the world of the internet to disabled and disadvantaged people so they can stay connected with their family and friends.
Cambridge Online make their services available to everyone who wants to learn the basics of the world wide web.
An estimated 5.9million people in the UK have never been online, and 12.6million do not have the digital skills to make the most of the opportunities the internet has to offer.
The charity will teach anyone who has never used the internet before to become familiar with social media platforms such as Facebook, as well as how to apply for a new job, switch energy provider for a cheaper deal and use emails.
It runs free computer drop-in sessions at its main learning centre, the Hester Adrian Centre in Hawthorn Way, as well as outreach locations across the city.
Sessions are being run with support from specially trained volunteer digital champions, who provide help using the internet with computers, tablets and smart phones.
Outreach co-ordinator Karen Cann, who organises the sessions, said: “I’m really enjoying my work, it has been wonderful seeing people use the internet for the first time.
“We would like people to know that it doesn’t matter what age they are and if they haven’t touched a computer before.
“We will talk them through it all, step by step, so there is no need for them to feel worried or nervous. The sessions are very friendly and relaxed, and there is no formal teaching structure.”
Learning basic online skills can be liberating for people and it can enable them to keep in contact with friends and relatives, search and apply for jobs, support their health, get the best deals and find local services in their area – to name just a few.
Cambridge Online chief executive Andrew Entecott added: “We are very excited about the expansion of our work in Cambridge and are grateful for the support we receive from the city council and Good Things Foundation.
“We are well aware that there are many people out there who would benefit from learning basic computer skills, and we are passionate about helping people to improve their online life.
“Obviously Cambridge Online can’t exist without our amazing volunteers.
“Please get in touch with us if you’d like to be one of our digital champions.
“You don’t need to be a computer expert at all, you just need to enjoy sharing basic online knowledge with our learners, such as how to use a search engine, sending emails and filling in online forms.
“Our volunteers find it a very rewarding experience – this really can be life-changing for learners.”
Cambridge Online also helps the city’s residents renew their bus passes and assists with online benefit forms at the city council’s customer services centre, Mandela House, every Monday between 10am and 12pm.