Throughout the summer, Claire has been running a series of free drop in sessions at Bredbury Library in Stockport.
As many people know, Stockport libraries have computers for use by members of the public. Having access to a computer is really useful and means that the whole community can access the internet free of charge. Unfortunately there are still a lot of people who don’t know enough about using a computer to make the most of these facilities, which is why we partnered with the Stockport Library service to deliver some free drop in sessions over the summer to help people build their confidence and get online.
Village Web Company is part of the Online Centres Network, which offers free training to help people learn how to use computers and get onto the internet. Here is a little more information to explain why Claire decided to join the Online Centres Network.
What made you start delivering free training?
In theory there isn’t a problem with expecting people to do things online, but the reality is that there are lots of people who haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to use a computer. I heard about the Online Centres Network and decided to sign the business up to the DigiKnow scheme which wants to help people in Stockport get online. Delivering free training sessions was a way that I could use my tech skills to help people.
What is the best thing about the training workshops?
The best thing is meeting new people and helping them learn how to do new things. I’ve met some lovely people and it’s nice to know that I’ve been able to help them.
What’s the worst thing bout the training workshops?
I’ve spent a lot of time sitting on my own! A lot of people don’t know that the free sessions are available, other people know about them but aren’t available and as the sessions are all free, I don’t have a budget to promote them so the numbers are still very small. In some ways it works slightly better because I’m usually only talking to one or two people at a time which makes it really relaxed.
How long are the training sessions you run?
I’m in the Community Room at Bredbury Library from 10.00 in the morning until 2.00 in the afternoon, but people can come along at any time and leave whenever they like. Spending too long learning something new can make it overwhelming and makes it harder to remember what you’ve learnt.
I had one lady come along to a session I did who just wanted to know how to change one setting on her phone, it only took about five minutes.
How many sessions do people have to go to?
People can come along to one session for ten minutes or come along to every single session for the full four hours. It’s really up to them. The most important thing is to work at your own pace.
What happens at the training sessions you run?
That depends on what people would like to know about. Sometimes people want to know how to do a specific thing such as set up an email address or access a certain website and other people just want to try using a computer or find out how to get online.
What if I don’t even know how to switch on a computer?
That’s absolutely fine. I can show you what to do and you can learn at your own pace.
How much does it cost to come to a session?
It is all totally free.
If it’s all free, why are you doing this?
I feel strongly about people having the necessary skills to be able to do things online. There is an increasing number of things that have to be done online and people who can’t use the internet risk being excluded.
I first learnt to use a computer at school and I’ve been using one at work since the 1990s so it’s easy for me to tax my car online or do things on the council’s website, but it isn’t that straightforward for everybody. Joining the Online Centres Network and offering free training is a way for me to help.
How old do you have to be?
There isn’t an age limit on the sessions but the training is designed with adults in mind. The youngest person to do a session with me was a 14 year old, whose mum wanted them to learn about online banking because they had just opened their first bank account. The eldest so far was a lovely lady of 97, who had never touched a keyboard before and just wanted to give computers a try.
What if I’d like to carry on learning on my own?
There is an online learning platform called Learn My Way and once you have been added to the system, you can carry on learning wherever and whenever you like, such as at home or on one of the library computers. As long as you have access to the internet, you can access the learning platform.
Do I have to learn specific things?
No, you can learn whatever suits you. Learn My Way includes lots of ready made tutorials which covers most things but if you’d like to learn something different or prefer to do things face to face then that’s absolutely fine.
What if I finish all the training modules and want to learn more?
There are lots of other training programmes on the internet and lots of other free training sessions in and around the Stockport area such as Startpoint Cafe in Woodley, which is also part of the DigiKnow scheme.
Can I bring my own laptop or tablet?
Yes. You can bring your own laptop or tablet but you will probably need to access the internet, so you may need to connect to Stockport Council’s free wifi which is available at Bredbury Library.
When are the other sessions?
The final two sessions are on Tuesday 27th August and Tuesday 3rd September from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm at Bredbury Library.
How can I get more information?