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Library’s computer support transforms Blaenau Gwent woman’s life

‘J’ is a lady living in Blaenau Gwent who has benefited from the help provided by the staff and volunteers at Blaina library.

When Julie James, Minister for Skills recently visited the library, J spoke to her about the help she had received and the difference it has made to her life. Blaina Library is part of Aneurin Leisure Trust, a signatory of the Digital Inclusion Charter.

J often visited Blaina library with her young daughter and noticed that there were people using the computers. She wanted to return to work when her daughter started school, realising that she would need to be able to use a computer in order to get a job. J had “been made” to learn to use a computer 10 years previously but had never had the opportunity or need to put what she had learnt into practice. With her previous experience of using computers J was understandably very apprehensive and admitted to “being terrified” at the prospect; however she knew this was something she had to do if she was going to get a job and also to be able to help her daughter with her school work.

J “bit the bullet” and made enquiries about the help available at the library and explained what she wanted to learn. “It was nowhere near as terrifying as I though it would be; the staff and volunteers were so approachable. They really know their stuff and understand how people like me feel. I was made to feel welcome and comfortable which was very important to me as I don’t grasp things easily, so learning new things can be a bit daunting. If it wasn’t for David, one of the volunteers, I wouldn’t be where I am today. David took me right back to basics, he was so patient and didn’t mind how many questions I asked or how many times he had to show me how to do something. He kept telling me that there is no such thing as a stupid question and he was really keen to pass on as much knowledge as he could to me”. David is a digital volunteer who has been trained by Digital Communities Wales.

J started with learning how to set up and use e-mails, how to save documents, cutting and pasting documents etc. J, with David’s help, then moved on to job searching, putting a CV together and learning about how to apply for jobs. She said “I haven’t only been helped to use computers it has helped to build my confidence and try new things. It wasn’t just me that felt like that, I could see how the others around me bloomed and how their confidence grew too. I can’t really explain what a difference it has made and I would tell anyone to come along and give it a go.”

“Having taken the first steps, I had the confidence to enrol on a VARTE (Volunteering as a Route to Employment) course with Communities First which I completed and as a result I have started back to work.”

“At the beginning, when I started learning about computers I didn’t think I would get so much out of it and I can’t believe how far I have come. As well as learning digital skills, the encouragement and support I received has enabled me to get a job and it has also given me the confidence to ask questions and express my feelings. It was the best thing I ever did.”

If you think Digital Communities Wales can help your organisation, so that you can support someone like J, contact us on 0300 111 5050 or by emailing