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Digital course helping disabled Rayleigh man learn new skills

28 March 2017

A Rayleigh resident left paralysed following spinal surgery is discovering the opportunities of the online world thanks to Sanctuary Housing.

Tim Burchell, who uses a wheelchair and can only use two fingers on his right hand, has learned to design websites and set up blogs after completing a course run by the national housing provider and We Are Digital.

The 41-year-old signed up for three two-hour one-to-one sessions at his home, enabling him to enhance his existing computer knowledge and find the confidence to seek voluntary and part-time work.

Tim is now using those skills to create debate through his blog around the local environment for disabled people, such as the state of pavements and access to facilities.

Paralysed down his left side after surgery to remove tumours from his spine as the result of a rare genetic condition, Tim is also putting his skills into practice through his voluntary work with Sanctuary and building a website to help arrange a friend’s wedding.

He said: “Before I had my surgery I would have considered myself to be computer literate but this course provided me with the reassurance that I still had the relevant skills and also introduced me to the online world.

“It has given me access to web design and blogging which I didn’t know about before. I wasn’t aware how easy it was to access these things; it was very enlightening.”

Tim, who worked for a number of companies prior to his surgery, continued: “I might not be able to work fully again but this has given me the confidence to look for work, whether that be part-time or voluntary.

“I would most definitely recommend the sessions to others of all abilities, whether it’s someone who needs a skills refresher like in my case, or someone who has never used a computer before.”

Sanctuary Online aims to train around 600 residents across the country and improve their digital skills so they can take advantage of the online world. As part of the programme, there is also a City and Guilds qualification available for residents who want to use the training to improve their employability skills.


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