UWE and HP pilot new project to digitally reconnect North Bristol communities

Issue date: 13 June 2012

Communities in Lockleaze are the first to benefit from a new initiative from neighbours UWE Bristol and HP aimed at reconnecting groups that are digitally excluded in a rapidly expanding technological age.

“Digitally Disconnected” is currently being trialled at the Langley and Cameron Community Centres and Boing! in Lockleaze and North Bristol. The project aims to help a range of groups including older people, young families and those that are looking to return to work connect with the outside world through providing access to technology and developing new skill sets.

The scheme is being co-ordinated by UWE Volunteering and the Centres have been kitted out with a HP donation of desktops, PCs, laptops and all in-one-printers.

Volunteers from both organisations have been instrumental in the delivery of the project. HP volunteers have been installing and maintaining the equipment and offering IT support to the community.

In this pilot phase, UWE Bristol, HP and Bristol City Council's Learning Communities are working together to deliver basic ICT and Money Matters courses to motivate and instil confidence in attendees who may be accessing training and technology for the first time.

Richard Reddrop, Chair of Lockleaze Neighbourhood Trust and Head of Community Services at Lockleaze Primary School and Early Years Centre, said, “I am really excited that the Lockleaze community is partnering with UWE Bristol and HP with this project; the training is something that is constantly being requested and sought and we now have the opportunities to deliver it in a quality fashion. Interest in the training is really growing in the communities and feedback so far from the participants has been really positive.”

UWE Bristol students are leading consultations over the summer with the community to tailor the training programme to meet the diverse needs of the groups. This could range from helping people to trace their family tree and shop online, to better social interaction through Facebook and Twitter and improved access to learning and job opportunities.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor John Rushforth, who is leading the initiative, said, “In this technological age we can take access to computers and the internet for granted. Digitally Disconnected is an excellent example of what partnership working is all about. We are delighted to be working with HP to engage with a local community just 15 minutes' walk away from the University by equipping them with the access to technology and skills needed to make a positive contribution to their daily lives.”

“We believe that providing people with technology skills is a very effective way they can enhance their employment prospects and make a difference to the community in which they live. We are proud to support this project and have been inspired by the dedication of the Bristol community and the UWE students,” commented Nick Wilson, Vice President and Managing Director of HP UK and Ireland.

The Lockleaze community are keen to demonstrate their newly acquired skills and plan to organise and deliver a formal launch event for 'Digitally Disconnected' in the autumn.

Staff/student volunteers can still get involved with this inspirational project. For UWE Volunteering contact: Jo.Earl@uwe.ac.uk and HP contact: Steve.Vince@hp.com

To access information for free Learning Communities Courses across Bristol: phone: 0117 903 97 50 or if you have internet access go to www.bristolfreecourses.com

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