Greetings readers, can you believe it’s February already? In this post we chat to Ben, who leads our Digital Advisor One-to-One Service delivered at Leicester College City Skills Centre. These are bespoke sessions that aim to improve the digital skills of Moneywise Plus participants. Ben kindly answered our questions so we could find out much more about what he delivers.
How does digital benefit society?
Digital has impacted society at nearly every level and affected how we work, communicate, shop… everything really! The digital revolution has changed things dramatically and in such a short space of time. It has reduced the costs of services and products and allows people to communicate with each other instantaneously across the globe. Digital skills benefit people if they are looking for work, accessing health services, doing banking online and also provide access to entertainment. The number of people using the internet worldwide is around 3 billion, but unfortunately there is also a significant proportion of people who have been left behind: in England there are around 10 million people who are classed as digitally excluded. My main aim is to give people skills and help them grow their digital confidence, so that they can benefit more from the present digital world and be better prepared for future changes.
What is the purpose of the sessions you deliver?
A lot of people who attend the sessions have not had the opportunity to learn the basics of using computers and the Internet. The main purpose of the sessions is to help them learn and gain these basic computer skills, as well as helping them to understand the benefits of having these skills. I do find that lots of people have attended basic computer courses throughout their life but have not been able to maintain the skills and confidence they learnt, so one of the other purposes of my sessions is to encourage continued use of computers and the Internet in community settings or whilst attending further education so they can retain and develop their digital skills.
What are some of the things people learn in their sessions with you?
My sessions focus on improving people’s gaps in their digital skills, whatever they may be. Some people need to learn the very basics of using a computer, keyboard and mouse, others may need to learn how to use the Internet or e-mail. In some cases people may be confident in the basic use of computers and the Internet but need specific support in applying for jobs online, or they may want to know how they can shop online to save money, or how to compare gas and electrical companies online to get better deals. The digital world is very broad and there really is a great variety of things people can learn during the sessions, so I encourage them to focus on what’s most important to them. For instance, Universal Credit is quite often discussed as people are unsure about the changes this system will bring, so we dedicate some time to using the Internet for research and provide them with some of the skills that they will need before they move to Universal Credit.
What is the most exciting thing about the digital revolution?
Something I find quite exciting is ‘the internet of things’, which is where ordinary household appliances and other products can connect to the Internet. I do like the idea of using my phone to turn on my lights, central heating and oven, and even look in my fridge without having to get off the sofa. It’s all a bit expensive for most of us at the moment but the prices will eventually come down and at that point we’ll start to see and use more Internet connected products. Vehicles are also more connected and already some can call an ambulance should you be involved in an accident, saving time and potentially lives. Many health monitors are now connected to the Internet so people can monitor their health at home or on the move. The information can then be easily shared with health professionals, which could help with the prevention and treatment of many health conditions.
What impact does not having digital skills have on the people you work with?
A lot of people I work with do feel quite isolated from society because of their lack of digital skills. They’re aware how much people’s use of computers and the Internet has increased, especially over the last 5 – 10 years. They sometimes feel embarrassed as well. Some people who are currently searching for work cannot do so online, and spend time going door to door handing out CVs which many employers no longer accept. As many people grew up with computers not being part of their lives at school it can be quite daunting to now start using them. In my sessions I try to reassure people that they are very capable of gaining some good digital skills during their work with the project, which can help them overcome their fears or anxieties of using computers and the Internet.
What effect does gaining digital skills have on them?
We’ve supported a lot of people now with gaining more digital skills and growing their confidence in using digital. One person I worked with was overjoyed about being able to use satellite and street maps to walk around their old town in Tanzania, a place they’ve not visited since their childhood many decades ago. It was fantastic to help someone to use the internet for this personal journey. Another person who I have supported was struggling with health problems and had to stop their career. They hadn’t needed to have digital skills in their previous career, so I helped them use the Internet to research education and career options and have already seen a massive improvement in their confidence and general outlook which is been really rewarding for both of us. Another person the project has been supporting is registered blind and was struggling with an outdated software package designed to support people with sight problems. He could not use the Internet for job searching and so had to travel quite a distance to the job centre to do all his Internet job searches there. I was able to get in touch with the software company and arranged an hour-long tutorial to help him use the software better, so he can do all his job searching from home. This was incredibly useful for him and saved him a lot of time travelling, so he was delighted with the support and feels more confident about his future. Other people I have supported have had a general fear of digital, so it’s always nice to see them overcome this and realise that with a bit of support they can gain a good level of digital skills.
Are you ever surprised by things that your clients do/don’t know?
I do empathise with people who haven’t grown up with computers and have never used them either at school, work or during life in general. With the speed technology changes it can be easy to get a little bit left behind, but people can catch up quickly as well. We support people to improve their overall skills and knowledge by accessing further education; many people don’t know that there are a lot of qualifications that they can study for free to improve their skills. I’m really passionate about people continuing with education throughout their life, so it’s a nice surprise when I see them full of confidence after passing their first ever qualification. For many people it’s about the journey of learning and it’s great to see these people grow in confidence in front of you.
Are you or someone you know struggling to develop digital skills? Moneywise Plus may be able to help you achieve this and much more. We offer support for all matters digital and financial, and can help you gain volunteering skills and confidence to become work ready. To find out if you’re eligible for our project, visit our website or give us a call on 0300 003 7004.
Hello readers, and welcome to our first blog post of 2018! In this instalment we’re asking one of our participants how Moneywise Plus helped them. This month we chat to Sharon Wood, who took part in the digital one-to-one sessions and the volunteer routeway courses and who has since joined the project in a volunteering capacity to offer her help and experience to other participants.
What were your circumstances before you came to the project?
Unfortunately I was in poor health, which made me feel worthless. My resulting lack of confidence and self-loathing prevented me from working or seeking work.
How did you hear about the project?
I was referred by Ben at Leicester College, and was soon taking part in the digital one-to-one and volunteering courses. Before my first session I wasn’t sure what to expect, but once I’d met the advisors I felt much more comfortable and relaxed. I knew that they were going to be great people to get on with and confide in.
What did you gain from the project?
I increased my digital skills by learning how to use email, I also improved my communication skills. I developed interview techniques and learned how to write a personal statement and complete job applications. I found learning and doing these things absolutely brilliant, I’m much more confident now about getting in touch with people. The project really built up my confidence: it got me into doing emails and applying for volunteering roles. It made me feel comfortable about myself.
How do you feel about life now?
I feel confident about my future now, having had conversations with the volunteering team about upcoming opportunities. I feel that I can overcome the barriers I face; before I approached them with trepidation but I now feel very confident. I feel that I can do more by myself, and the project has made me want to go forward with my life. I feel uplifted and much less anxious.
What did you think of the project?
The project more than met my expectations! I found the people lovely to work with – it was brilliant and everyone felt equally valued. Everyone has been friendly, helpful and great to get along with. Taking part in the project was an absolutely fulfilling experience, it ticked all of the boxes for what I wanted to achieve. I couldn’t fault it. I would absolutely recommend the project to a friend.
Would you or someone you know like to develop financial, digital and volunteering skills? Our project may be able to help you. Find out if your eligible by completing the referral form on our website.
On Friday 24th November Moneywise Plus delivery partners, participants and stakeholders gathered together at The Venue, DeMontfort University to mark the end of the first year of delivery of the Moneywise Plus programme and celebrate its achievements to date. As of September 2017, the project has supported 321 participants, of which:
• 43% increased their financial skills in personal budgeting
• 36% increased their digital skills through improved access to the internet
• 36% received specific advice through attendance at scheduled appointments as part of the programme.
Moneywise Plus is a project funded by the National Lottery (through the Big Lottery Fund) and the European Social Fund. It is managed and delivered by Reaching People, a consortium of third sector organisations in Leicester and Leicestershire, with the City and County Council as additional partners. The purpose of the project is to improve the financial and digital skills of local unwaged participants across Leicester and Leicestershire, with the aim to support 1,400 people by the end of 2019.
The event began with an opportunity for attendees to mingle and chat, followed by a welcome by Gaynor Quilter, Chair of Reaching People. We then enjoyed a video introducing the project (which you can view below) and kicked off the event in earnest with an evaluation discussion in groups lead and facilitated by Chris Barlow of ERS. After sharing feedback we moved onto the next activity, in which Moneywise Plus delivery partners each lead a discussion in groups and then fed back to the room. At 5pm we listened to a talk by our inspirational keynote speaker Romail Gulzar, Managing Editor of Pukaar News and Founder of the Leicester Curry Awards, who spoke about how money and digital skills had influenced his life. We wrapped up the event with some last words from Reaching People CEO Jenny Hand and Gaynor Quilter, at which point a buffet was served and attendees were free to eat, drink and network.
Here’s what some of our participants had to say about our project:
‘The whole programme has boosted my confidence, helped me to reach my personal goals and helped me improve on my communication skills.’
‘Very worthwhile project and has really helped me get a full-time permanent position.’
‘I have now become very confident in everything that I do.’
We’re extremely proud of all that we’ve achieved in just one year and look forward to doing even more in the years to come! We hope you will join us at our next annual celebration event in 2018.
Partners and stakeholders involved in the Moneywise Plus project will meet at The Venue at DeMontfort University on Friday 24th November for their Annual Celebration event.
The purpose of the event is to celebrate the project’s achievements in the first year of delivery and work on challenges for next year. Moneywise Plus is a project funded by the National Lottery (through the Big Lottery Fund) and the European Social Fund. It is managed and delivered by Reaching People, a consortium of third sector organisations in Leicester and Leicestershire. Additional partners are the City and County Council.
The aim of the project is to improve the financial and digital skills of local unwaged participants across Leicester and Leicestershire. So far the project has supported over 325 people with over 150 participants completing the programme and achieving positive progression.
Welcome and introduction to the event will be provided by Gaynor Quilter, Chair of Reaching People, who has over thirty years experience in the housing, employment, learning and support sectors. Attendees will then watch video interviews with participants who will talk about the impact delivery has had on their life and what they have achieved through the project. There will also be interactive workshops, which will provide an opportunity for stakeholders to experience what delivery is like for participants. The event will include a key-note speech from Romail Gulzar, Managing Editor of Pukaar News UK, who will speak about how money and digital skills have influenced his life.
Gaynor Quilter says: ‘I am really pleased to be able to share the early achievements of Moneywise Plus and the huge difference the project is making on the lives of local people. Many of the participants are among people in most need of additional support to use digital devices to apply for work and to manage their finances and improve their lives generally. Moneywise plus in year 1 has already supported over 325 people to move on with financial and digital skills.’
More information about the Moneywise Plus project and how to access its services can be found on the website www.moneywiseplus.co.uk. Support is available for any person who is over 16 years of age, not in work and eligible to reside in the UK.
If you would like to attend the event please follow this link to our event listing on Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/2jGw1R4
We have some exciting news to share… Prince Harry is coming to Leicester on Tuesday 21st March. As part of his visit Prince Harry will be visiting Leicestershire Aids Support Service (LASS) along with 2 other projects. Moneywise Plus is based at LASS and has been invited to this fantastic opportunity.
LASS, the HIV charity for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. LASS provides information, advice, support and advocacy services for people who are living with or affected by HIV, and also raises HIV awareness through training and workshops. The charity, which Diana, Princess of Wales, visited in 1991, also works in partnership with other local agencies to challenge the stigma and discrimination faced by people living with HIV. On arrival Prince Harry will join a discussion with LASS service users affected by HIV, and attend a training session with the charity’s partner organisations (including Moneywise Plus) to examine how they can support people affected by HIV to lead happy, healthy lives. His Royal Highness will then meet service users and volunteers over lunch in the LASS canteen, before unveiling a commemorative plaque to mark the charity’s 30th birthday.
Watch this space for more news on this!
The team at Moneywise Plus would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas & a fantastic New Year!
Our office will close for Christmas at 5pm on Friday 22nd December 2017 and will reopen at 9am on Tuesday 2nd January 2018.
We hope you have a wonderful festive holiday and we’re looking forward to achieving even more with you in 2018.
The Moneywise Plus Team
Moneywise Plus was officially launched at an event which took place at New Walk Museum on Friday 25th November. The event also celebrated the success of the last Moneywise project. Moneywise Plus will assist people with their online skills as well as helping them become financially aware, so we’re looking forward to another very successful project with our delivery organisations and partners Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, Action Homeless Leicester, asra Housing Group, Community Advice and Law Service, Cooke e-Learning Foundation, The Bridge – East Midlands, Home-Start Leicester, Melton and Rutland, Leicester College, The Y, b-inspired and Pedestrian. Thank you to Guest speaker Wasim Khan C.E.O of Leicestershire County Cricket Club for his inspirational speech on leadership.
Action Homeless is looking to recruit for a newly funded project via The Big Lottery and ESF.
For more details follow the link action-homeless-moneywise-plus-vacancy
Welcome to our new website!
Moneywise Plus is now ‘live’ and has started to register its first clients who will benefit from tailored online/digital support and financial advice and information.
If you wish to refer someone who would benefit from this support please complete the online referral form, under the tab Refer to Us