Up to 50 older people in Dovercourt have been introduced to computer and online skills thanks to the dedication of learndirect Digital Champion Paul Turvey.
Paul, aged 45, gained NVQ Levels 2 and 3 ITQ qualifications through learndirect and is also a qualified adult educator. He volunteers teaching basic computer skills to the Over 60s at Long Meadows Community Centre.
Paul said: "When the students start the course they have no, or very limited, knowledge of using the internet. But, having learnt these new skills, the vast majority of our students are now online at home. Our courses are so popular there's a waiting list to get on them."
Ben Vernaven, 74, is one of Paul's pupils at his computer class. He said: "Paul is the sort of person who is able to explain in a calm and simple way how to apply or correct something on the computer. Also, because we are getting on in years, he can detect if we're not following and with bags of patience will start again or try a different way".
Paul also plans to help school-leavers aged 18 and above learn IT skills through The Mayflower Project in Harwich. He is a volunteer at the project, which aims to build a full-sized, seagoing replica of The Mayflower ship, which sailed in 1620. In doing so the project teaches visitors and local people new skills such as in shipwrighting, joinery and navigation. The project has also teamed up with local colleges in order to offer qualifications.
Paul said: "Part of the course for the students will be to teach them IT skills, so we are going to be getting the younger end of the market active online in a productive way."
Paul explained why he believes it is so important that people learn computer skills: "Society is depending more and more on online services and anyone who doesn't have access to these services is disengaged. We can't have areas of society who are disengaged purely because of a lack of a few skills and even if they don't go out and buy their own computer, people can use free internet at the library. You can access resources there, you don't have to spend a lot of money buying a laptop and paying monthly for broadband – it's often believing that having computer access is going to be costly that holds people back."
Paul was first introduced to learndirect when he visited its centre The Learning Shop @ Dovercourt in the town's High Street.
Having worked in IT for many years Paul was looking for a course that was relevant to his skill level: "The learndirect ITQ course attracted me because of what it covered. The curriculum was appropriate for what I was looking for. The support offered by learndirect was good and I was able to do a lot of the studying at home."
Paul gained NVQ Levels 2 and 3 in ITQ through learndirect.
"The Level 3 course was more challenging. It covered applications and areas I'd never used before such as video editing. What I enjoyed about the learndirect courses was being able to complete the task," Paul said.
Paul said: "I got a lot of self-confidence from the gaining the NVQs through learndirect and that enabled me to go on to do voluntary work and hold my head up knowing I could do whatever was thrown at me."
Thanks for your help,
The learndirect team