A two-year programme from BCHA to help people get online has been so successful it is to be taken forward and expanded by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnerships (DLEP) Digital Skills Hub in Boscombe.

Leading housing and employability provider BCHA launched Bournemouth Digital in June 2022 with funding from the *Good Things Foundation, to help the estimated third of all Dorset residents who are ‘digitally excluded’, including those without essential skills and 11 per cent who are completely offline.

In the last 24 months the programme has engaged 263 learners who have used the five-week courses to learn basic computer functionality, including how to use a keyboard and mouse, internet searching, sending emails and accessing online banking.

Learner Robin Brierley said: “I have a phone and a laptop but there was so much I didn’t know how to do before the course. Our tutor was incredibly helpful, and I now feel much more confident online. I even use my computer for money management.”

Bournemouth Digital gave Teresa Davies skills to get a new job.

She explained: “I wanted to work in the support sector and knew I would need more digital skills. I did the beginner’s class and was immediately impressed by how small and friendly it was and how easy it was to ask for and get help.

“A year later I now have my job and am also taking a college course, which I never imagined I would have been able to do.”

Bournemouth Digital co-ordinator, Andy Merchant said: “Many people lack the confidence or the day-to-day computing skills necessary in our increasingly digital society, but Bournemouth Digital has helped hundreds to acquire that confidence.

“It’s been incredibly encouraging for everyone on the team to see the doors the programme has opened for people and to hear their amazing feedback.

“Our beginners’ courses have been delivered at nine community locations across Bournemouth, including Dorset LEP’s Digital Skills Hub in Boscombe, where the learners have enjoyed such success with it that the LEP has now offered to take it onwards and upwards.”

The Digital Skills Hub in the Royal Arcade, Boscombe was set up with the mission of addressing digital exclusion. It successfully helps residents and local business owners learn new technology/IT skills, make connections, boost confidence and better themselves and is delivered by the Dorset LEP with funding from BCP Council.

The Hub’s Partnership & Project Lead, Kaoutar Addi, said: “Bournemouth Digital has been instrumental in helping many of our clients to develop their skills and move forward in their employment.

Andy and his fellow tutors are incredibly knowledgeable, and patient and their delivery has been key to the courses’ success. So, when we learned that the programme was scheduled to end after two years, I took it to the LEP and told them we needed to keep it going – and they agreed.”

The programme will be known as Digital Discovery and delivered at The Digital Skills Hub in Boscombe for people looking to grown and improve their IT skills.

Kaoutar continued: “Digital Discovery will continue to be delivered by Andy and his expert team from BCHA and it will grow, with more courses, such as one on the use of mobile phones.

“Bournemouth Digital has paved the way for people to develop their online confidence and digital skills and Digital Discovery will continue its success. We are very excited about our new partnership with BCHA and what the future holds for all our learners.”

For those wishing to find out more about the Digital Discovery beginners and intermediate computer course, please drop into the Digital Skills Hub, Boscombe or email: bchalearn@bcha.org.uk 

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