Friday, 21 December 2012

New video: Get IT Together and the Cornwall Library Service making a difference.

Some great partnership working between Get IT Together and the Cornwall Library Service is giving local residents the knowledge, skills and confidence to get online.

New Forum and a happy 'Blogging New Year'

Unfortunately the end of year steering group meeting has been hijacked by the Seven Reindeers of IT Cancellation!

However by the power of old technology (phone) three of the group have agreed to form the committee of the new 'North Lincolnshire Digital Inclusion Forum' which will hopefully build on the work of Get IT Together with the added ability to seek funding to directly deliver pilot projects in North Lincolnshire - more in 2013!

A New Year's resolution from me - Create a 'North Lincolnshire Get IT Together Blog'
The beginnings.....

See you in 2013

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Haxey Hallcroft Resident Association Getting ready for 2013

Study Parks has taken responsibility for new IT equipment to get ready for the resident association's 'Digital Inclusion' project which will kickstart in January 2013.

Four new laptops, mice and carry bags are part of the Awards for All project

Each laptop will be updated, configured and additional software added to enable the association to hold a 'Launch' event in January 2013 followed by digital inclusion sessions/events thereafter.
Just waiting for South Killingholme's equipment to arrive so they can start their project in 2013. In January I will also be meeting the committee of Market Hill Resident Association to discuss IT equipment, publicity, launch events and training for their Awards for All project.
2013 is looking even busier than this year!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Rural Projects - GND Hibaldstow

This rural resident association received an early Christmas present today in the form of five new laptops which have been updated, configured and free software installed by Study Parks.

Talking with members of the committee it's looking like the launch event will be taking place in January 2013 with digital inclusion sessions running thereafter but only after connecting them to a competent broadband service provider. Competent as in more than the meagre 1-2 mbps currently on offer!

Cue a local WiFi broadband provider - Quickline. I have managed to negotiate a 10-15mbps community connection offer for 'rural' Get IT Together projects. I will be supporting the association in completing the application and getting them connected ready for their launch in 2013.

Sorry to those projects who see 1-2mbps as a luxury!

Family Discovery Learning - Creative People

Willoughby Road Primary School parents, grandparents, aunts + uncles and children have had the opportunity to be 'creative' with digital technology over the last four weeks.
The Study Parks digital inclusion and digital literacy course is continuing to be a big hit with adults and children alike. The learning programme subtly 'drops people in at the deep end' of creative possibilites using online and digital technology. The programme uses a mixture of video, audio, graphic and computer gaming software to produce a fully interative 3D computer game using a wide range of skills in a collaborative, friendly and fun environment.  

Adults and children using the 'Live' TV studio

Family teams preparing scripts for video and audio recording
Most adults who arrive on Week 1 look mesmerised when we explain what the programme entails but by Week 5 they are creating scripts, video sequences and jointly creating a computer game!

The programme for 2013 is virtually full for Spring and Summer terms.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Beechway Residents Association

Was out visiting another funded residents association this morning in Scunthorpe. Beechway Resident Association have been through the mill a bit since receiving their funding but they have been resolute and this morning was the first time they were able to switch on the new laptops in the shared location (Bespoke community project).
Resident Association committee members with laptops to hand.
However, our intended 'training session' was dead in the water as the broadband service was not working!

So we used the time wisely and organised the joint 'Launch Event' for the project, which should be happening on January 19th - fingers crossed!!

A fantastic group of people wanting to do a great service for their community

Monday, 17 December 2012

Meeting with South Killingholme Residents Association

Was busy visiting a far flung residents association this morning @ South Killingholme.
This group have been successful in securing an Awards for All grant to fund a digital inclusion project for their local community.

Meeting with Ron, the association chairman, and Christine from the Parish Council (who run the community centre). We managed to organise the important Internet Cafe room, room rate and an agreement for a new broadband service to the centre to be put on the agenda for the next council meeting - so fingers crossed it gets accepted and Ron and his association can get started in 2013.

One of the rooms in the well equipped Community Centre

One year on and the BT Connected Communities programme is going from strength to strength

Friday saw the successful launch of the extended Connected Communities project into rural communities across Northern Ireland. The event, held at the Clogher Valley Community Centre in Augher, celebrated the success of the programme so far and presented a further opportunity for the public to find out about the project and for project partners to exhibit and network. The event was well attended by members of the community, volunteers, BT, local governmentt and the press.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Day 5 - final day of my blog week!

This photo of the view from my office tells the story and sets the scene for the day. I woke up to freezing fog and black ice - this didn't change until mid afternoon and affected my plans for the day.
Those plans included setting off late morning to Batley to a restaurant called Zucchinis, where I had intended to meet a few of my steadfast volunteers and treat them to lunch as a reward for all their hard work and time they had given to the project. Unfortunately, the black ice prevented our lunch date taking place and it has been rescheduled until the new year.

On the positive side it gave me time to make a start on my December monthly report, which will be a short one this month, being only half-way through the month!

The rest of the day was taken up with setting up another new course in January, being invited to attend a meeting in Chickenley in the new year and confirming a follow-up meeting with Alison Peaden with regard to a joint working opportunity involving Kirklees libraries, JCP and my project.
I finish today for Xmas and I feel I'm ending the year on a high - my stats are looking healthy; I've regained contact with Kirklees community team and I've got courses booked for January and February 2013 and lots of potential opportunities to follow up.

That's over and out for me and I'm passing the blog over to Michael in North Lincs to continue next week. I hope that anyone that has read my blog has enjoyed reading it as I have really enjoyed writing it! Merry Xmas to all my colleagues and partner organisations and wishing you all a very happy new year!! Xxx

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Day 4 - I had to clear the snow off the car!!

My morning meeting today was at Jobcentreplus with the Outreach Manager. Annette was very helpful in providing me with lots of useful contacts and information relating to the introduction of the Universal Job Match programme. Its a completely new online job posting and automated matching service. It will be managed by Monster Worldwide Limited and replace all existing DWP job search services. We also touched on the introduction of universal credit, which will be claimed via the Internet. Both schemes will create a digital inclusion demand which will have a positive impact on my project. When I left there it was snowing in Huddersfield and I had to clear the snow off the car! It certainly made it feel very festive, albeit extremely cold!

Once back at home in my office, I settled down to tackle the Nominet Trust report I had to complete before close of business today. Once I had completed the report I felt much better for doing it and it helped focus my plans for the next 6 months of the project.

Still lots of admin to complete but I'm calling it a day for now.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Day 3 of a day in the life of coordinating the Get IT Together project in Kirklees

This morning my day starts with the many admin duties that go hand in hand with a PC role. I'm sorting through emails, responding to comments on my FB page and organising start dates for January 2013 courses. Can't believe how fast 2012 has gone!!

I'm now on my way to Boothroyd Junior school to take a photo of 3 of the mums that have completed a 6 weeks course and give them their certificates. There is a waiting list for parents to do the course which is great for the project.

After that, I'm off the Deighton centre in Huddersfield to a Kirklees community team meeting. It was great touching base with the team again - it's been awhile! The meeting focussed on the challenges and opportunities that community engagement workers face and how the asset based community development model is the way forward in turning challenges into opportunities. At the next team meeting in January, I've been asked to do a presentation to show the community team what the project has achieved in the last year.
I finish the day off collating my entry and exit forms to post to the central team in Swindon - these forms evidence how many learners engage with the project, which are subsequently reflected in my stats. End of blog for today and will blog again for tomorrow.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Day 2 - another busy day!

Greenwood Centre in Ravensthorpe

Today, I attended the weekly drop In (which I set up earlier this year) at the Greenwood centre library in Ravensthorpe. The Greenwood centre is occupied by both the library service and the Childrens centre and both organisations have been really supportive of the Get IT Together project. Take a look at one of my learners practising his keyboard skills using an interactive website called 'doorways online'.

There's always lots to do at the drop in;  such as supporting learners with Job search activity, setting up email accounts, searching addresses on Google earth and much more.  We do have Maryam, the tutor and volunteers on hand but I like to lend a hand when needed. Whilst I was there, I helped print and laminate certificates of achievement for tomorrow's final session of a 6 week course at Boothroyd Junior school.  Whilst I was there last week, we shot a video of a learner talking about what she had learnt on the course and I received an email from our central team to say it had been uploaded to youtube, FB and twitter.  Take a look at the short video by clicking on the link below:

At the end of my day, I received a phone call from a vicar who invited me to their luncheon club in early January, with a view to helping them set up and develop some IT classes for their Bridge club group in Birstall.

Never a dull day in the life of a Citizens Online PC!! That's me blogged for today and will update you tomorrow.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Day 1 - My first day as a Blogger!

I thought I would start my blog off with a picture, taken from my office window on a beautiful sunny, December morning in Halifax. I've put the kettle on and I start the day going through my unread emails and checking my calendar for the week ahead. Next on the list is my weekly conference call with my other Citizens Online colleagues in which we share our highs and lows from the previous week and what we've got planned for the week ahead. It's a great opportunity to share information and ideas for our projects and a great platform for getting support when we need it.

I managed to download a mobile blogging app onto my Ipad, which has meant that I can blog on the go, without having to carry my laptop around! A tick for SMART working, lol.

This afternoon, I had a meeting with Helen O'Sullivan from Kirklees and Neighbourhood housing to discuss project support for the introduction of digital inclusion for their tenants at a sheltered housing complex in North Kirklees. It is hoped that the service will lead to self-support in accessing government sites, promote social inclusion via access to social media and generally improve life chances.  I am hopeful that we can work together in January 2013 so watch this space!! That's me done for today and I will be blogging again tomorrow.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Thank crunchie it's Friday

Day 5: Keep Calm and Carry a Lightsaber

Looking up Regent Street towards Barnsley Town Hall
Busy day to get through- hence the 'Depressed Darth' quote (if you're not following me on twitter- @alisonvint1- why not?! Beginning at the A4e premises in Barnsley town centre this morning with a new course. We had 8 lovely learners who were really keen to get online and use the internet to look for work. We started off with introductions and computer basics before giving everyone the chance to use Google to search for things they were interested in- this included cleaning jobs, looking up fancy dress outfits and a review of the new Jools Holland CD! Next week we will get everyone sorted with an email address and then move on to CV building. Great start today- everyone got stuck in and helped each other and we even had a bit of a laugh along the way. See picture below.

Get IT Together tutor Tony explains what a search engine is
This afternoon I raced off to the last session of an 8 week course at Sunrise Manor community centre in Platts Common. This is a centre managed by Berneslai Homes who manage the social housing in the borough. Get IT Together have provided a tutor, Tom, and over the course there have been 7 learners attending to find out how they can benefit from being online. The course has now finished, and I am looking at progression opportunties for them in the New Year. Before they finished the session I took a few pictures and also recorded a short clip of Matt Lowe, Berneslai Homes Digital Inclusion Officer talking about his role and the way that we have been working together in Barnsley to promote digital inclusion. The plan was to upload that now, but true to form the technology has let me down and my internet speed is too slow! Watch this space, or maybe it will appear on the Citizens Online website. Matt is breathing a sigh of relief- a brief respite Matt, you were too good not to be broadcast! Rather appropriately, that concludes my blog from Barnsley- now passing the baton over to Lorraine in Kirklees. Over and out!


Thursday, 6 December 2012

Day 4- Reindeer in Barnsley

You gotta love a reindeer this close to Christmas!
Welcome to Day 4. I didn't really see a reindeer today but I do live near a Deer Farm so I could have!

Spent all morning in my mini office at home catching up on admin stuff that included replying to emails, copying paperwork to send in to the central team and ringing around to book in new courses with venues, providers and learners. That makes it sound much easier than it really was- one course starting in January took 3 emails and 4 phone calls today! I have been in touch with Diane at Adult and Family Learning who are delivering the 3 week taster course, Michelle who is the warden at Collins Close community centre where the course will be held, and 3 learners who have attended project sessions at the centre. I have also printed off a few flyers to send out to learners who weren't at the last session and to take to the local library. Not sure that people always appreciate how hard it is to pull everything together for just one course, and I have another 5 to get sorted in the next couple of weeks- my colleagues across the country are nodding sagely and stroking their imaginary beards!

On the plus side, I have managed to delete 5 lines from the sticky notes that are on my desktop- result! I love sticky notes- I have 3 on screen at the moment- one for urgent stuff that needs doing today, one for ongoing things and one for completely random thoughts/ ideas (on at the moment are : echo-location and the hippocratic oath- totally bonkers I know). It amuses me to change their colours and update them- a virtual version of doodling.

This afternoon I met up with a new tutor to discuss our 4 week course outline for a group of unemployed learners tomorrow. We had planned to meet up with Neil my contact at A4e at 3pm at one of their premises in the town centre. Unfortunately when we got there the office was all locked up and Neil didn't have a key and it was FREEZING! The 3 of us decamped to the Digital Media Centre across the road so we could thaw out and go through the arrangements for the course. Neil said he has signposted 9 learners and we only have 5 laptops so tomorrow will be fun!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Day 3- It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Day 3- Captains Log, stardate 5th December: too close to Christmas to get everything done!

View from the garden centre!
It was an icy start in Barnsley today- thought I would share this image of hubby scraping ice off my car at 8am, not because it's a winning picture but because it vindicates my purchase of a delightful glove ice scraper last year. Yes!

It was then a tentative drive through pretty little Pennine villages this morning for a meeting with my Citizens Online colleague Lorraine from Kirklees. We met at a coffee shop in a garden centre in between Barnsley and Huddersfield to discuss the technicalities of taking video clips for the project; how to upload to drop box, improving the sound quality when using iPhones, and protocols around filming learners and volunteers. We also shared a few frustrations around all the technical stuff that can get in the way of just doing the job- poor connectivity, compatibility of devices and having to get up to speed ourselves on all this stuff. We definitely had no time at all for a quick look round the centre. Definitely not.

This afternoon I attended a meeting at Kirk Balk Community College where we discussed how to improve opportunities for active participation in community life for pupils of the school and for the wider community. I am involved with supporting Internet Rangers activity in the school and we are planning to introduce regular sessions led by pupils where they will help older people in the community to get online. At the meeting today Deputy Head Roger Goodwin confirmed that the superb facilities at the school could be used from 3.30pm for project activity and for progression courses for adults. As I have a few classes running in this area of Barnsley I am hopeful that something can be sorted out early next year. Home to blog and catch up on emails!


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Day 2: Northern College Volunteer Event

Day 2 from Barnsley- Volunteer Event at Northern College

Volunteers Cath and Adam at the event
Today I accompanied some of my volunteers up to Northern College ( ) for an event to look at the changing role of volunteers in the community and what support or training they would like to fulfil that role. It was a great session led by Kerry and Phil from the college with a very nice lunch (we even had mince pies!) and lots of potential for further training next year. Volunteers were particularly interested in training qualifications around IAG, PTTLS and ILM. Abbreviations are prolific in the learning sector as we discovered today!

This afternoon I provided some support to a Children's Centre in Wombwell who are applying for a BT Community Connections Award.  Utilising free broadband for a year will enable the centre to provide additional services and provide a further internet access point for people in the locality. If they are successful we are hoping to work together to encourage grandparents to get more involved, and perhaps do some work to support unemployed people with online job search and CV writing. 

I finished the day with a trip to a local Communal Centre managed by Berneslai Homes who are one of my close partners. This was the final session of a short introduction to the internet course that we have provided for local residents, and I was keen to promote a short 'Computing for the Terrified' course that the Adult Learning service will be running to follow on in the New Year. Then home in the dark after battling through the sleety rain and temporary traffic lights!

Alison outside St James Hall at Northern College


Monday, 3 December 2012

The Blog from Barnsley

Hello to the virtual world from the Heart of Barnsley!

Day 1 of my 'week in the life' of Get IT Together Barnsley Project Coordinator.

Off to a flying start with our weekly conference call today at 9.30am, featuring colleagues from Wales, Northern Ireland, Cornwall and Kirklees sharing their highs, lows and future plans. I love to hear the round up across the country- our own little Citizens Online 'shipping forecast' to ease us into the working week. I was refusing to admit to any 'lows' as I have had a lovely weekend away in the Lake District- so I'm sharing a picture from our walk around the lake- it was bright and cold, just how I like it!

view across Buttermere, Saturday 1st December 2012
Like project coordinators everywhere, the end of the month brings the twin moons of monthly reports and expenses to get in to the central team so I will be finishing those off this morning and trying to recruit a few more learners for an Online Shopping for Christmas course starting tomorrow at Horizon Community College.

This afternoon I'm going along to an Open Day at  Dodworth Library to promote new course opportunities and work with Steve, one of my volunteers, to support anyone who comes along to get online. Branch Libraries are a great assett for project coordinators like me- fantastic venues in which to hold taster sessions and events as they are already familiar to a wide cross section of the community and people feel comfortable accessing facilities and services there. I'm currently working in 3 libraries in Barnsley and I have to say the staff are always great at promoting digital inclusion. I hope to post a few pics from the event later!

... and here we are, a couple of shots from Dodworth Library Open Day!
Meet Steve, one of my volunteer tutors supporting a couple of ladies come to terms with a new laptop;


Steve recently attended a financial inclusion training session for volunteers that I arranged, so I took the opportunity this afternoon to present him with his certificate. I think he's starting to feel like a celebrity now!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The 2012 TalkTalk Digital Heroes

The TalkTalk 2012 Digital Heroes Awards have taken place and the winners have been announced. This is the sixth year that Citizens Online has worked with TalkTalk on the Digital Heroes Awards and our Chief Executive, John Fisher, once again performed the role of Master of Ceremonies.

The UK’s Digital Hero for 2012 is Claire Sutcliffe, who founded Code Club, a nationwide network of volunteer-led after school coding clubs for children aged 9-11. There are now over 300 Code Clubs across the UK, all run by professional programmers who volunteer their time. Claire plans to use the grant to improve their website and expand the network of clubs even further.

There were two outstanding finalists in the new category of Young Digital Hero – May Gabriel, who founded the It’s OK campaign to tackle the stigma around depression, and Elliot Massey, who started an online information service for buses in Torbay. After much deliberation, the award went to May Gabriel, with a special commendation for Elliot.

Congratulations to all those who took part.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Successful Team Away Days

Great team away days last week - all of our project staff from across the UK came together for two days to network, share best practice and learn new skills. We had sessions on capacity building, project planning, time management and social media (to name but a few). It was also a great opportunity to meet our new trustees (some vast experience there) and to meet John Perkins from BT, who kindly gave up some of his annual leave to join in and meet the team.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Welcome to the Citizens Online projects blog. Citizens Online is a national charity that was set up to tackle the issues of digital exclusion, to make sure that the Internet is available to everybody and to help individuals and communities understand and gain the benefits of being online.

The Get IT Together programme promotes digital inclusion amongst disadvantaged communities.
The approach involves a 3-year community development process, managed by a full time Project Coordinator. Get IT Together has been established in 15 locations across the UK, through a national partnership involving BT, Citizens Online and the Nominet Trust, along with 21 key local partners.

This blog will highlight the digital inclusion achievements we have made and challenges we face in the communities we work in.