Sanctuary Housing residents in Shiregreen are improving their online skills through free digital training classes as part of a national initiative.
In partnership with We Are Digital, Sanctuary Housing is delivering training sessions to residents through its Sanctuary Online programme, an exciting project teaching everyone from those seeking work to those in retirement how to use the internet and make the most of the online world.
The first session in Sheffield took place at the Shiregreen Neighbourhood Centre with more planned in the coming months. Delivered by digital experts from We Are Digital, the sessions will teach residents a range of skills including searching and applying for jobs online, paying bills, preparing CV’s and managing Universal Credit.
In addition, residents can learn how to efficiently use computer software such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and keep in touch with family and friends through email and Skype.
Figures released in 2016 show that 12.6 million people in the UK are still not online. Of those with limited basic digital skills, 57 per cent are aged over 65, 31 per cent earn less than £9,500 a year, 28 per cent are unemployed and 26 per cent live in rural areas.
Melanie King, Sanctuary Housing’s neighbourhood partnerships manager for Shiregreen, said: “Supporting residents to get online and learn new skills is helping them to enjoy all the benefits that digital technology can add to their lives, whatever their age. Being online can reduce social isolation, help people find work and make it easier for them to handle day to day activities.”
Among the residents to take part in the first sessions was Gillian Oakley, 59, who volunteers at Shiregreen Neighbourhood Centre twice a week and took part in the course in order to become a digital champion so she can pass on her knowledge and skills to other local residents.
Gillian said: “The course was extremely useful and I will now be able to pass on that information to older people I see all the time in the community.
“In this day and age, learning about technology is important and it has encouraged me to go online more often. For my age group, the most useful aspect was finding out how to keep in touch with people using email or Skype. That can make a big difference in reducing feelings of loneliness and chatting to relatives wherever they are in the world.”
Sanctuary Online aims to train around 700 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.
Courses are open to people of all ages and skill levels, either in a group or at home.