Sylvia Stanhope, Age 64, Bromborough
Learner with the Age Uk Wirral
Sylvia has been unemployed since 2010, this was due to taking voluntary redundancy to look after her mother who unfortunately passed-away in 2016. Since then, she has responsibility for looking after her grandchildren until just recently. Now they are of school age she only has this responsibility during school holidays.
During the course Sylvia received 1-1 tuition, she was also provided with a Learner Pack which contained literature specific to the course and weekly feedback and progress reports that were aligned to her agreed outcomes/goals. She has also been provided with several possible progressions routes from Involve North West (Reachout) and virtually through the National Careers Service
Sylvia was able to complete all x 9 modules on the Learn My Way Platform during lockdown. In addition, she also managed to complete several word processing exercises and learnt how to send and receive emails including attachments. She has completed registration with Online Job Search sites utilising the basics skills learnt on the course and applied for a vacancy with ASDA. Sylvia has also registered with Reach Out and Restart which will enable her to continue her learning journey and has started working as a volunteer with Age UK Wirral.
This course suited Sylvia because it offered her the opportunity to reignite her Digital & Employability Skills. In addition to this she believes it has helped raise her confidence, self-esteem and assisted her in looking for employment.
“I have enjoyed having the one to one experience which has enabled me to complete application forms and having a teacher who was caring and helpful to my needs. Without his help and assistance I would not be able to achieve my goals.”
Richard Kumah, St. Helens
Learner with Torus Foundation
Richard, a Torus tenant lost his job prior to COVID and needed help to get back to employment due to financial stress and low self-esteem.
He was referred to the Include-IT Mersey course by the Torus Foundation employment team for digital skills and free tablet provision in May. During the regular digital sessions, Richard was taught how to go online using a laptop and most importantly, be able to use email, and search and apply for jobs online with an updated CV via Indeed. In addition, the course helped Richard to complete an application form for a Torus Electrical Apprenticeship, which he was successful in obtaining an assessment day invitation.
Following the completion of his wall cavity and insulation training, Richard was rewarded with a work trial and is to start a full-time job in due course.
“The program gave me skills and directions to overcome my confidence and employment barrier. The 1-1 support has been incredibly helpful which I would be lost if it wasn’t for the tutor’s patience and guidance. I am now much more motivated and confident.”
James Murray, St. Helens
Learner with Torus Foundation
James, a Torus tenant was a personal carer for over 15 years but recently needed help to get back to employment due to financial stress and low self-esteem because of a lack of digital skills/tools.
Having enrolled to both the Include-IT Mersey and Torus Foundation New Leaf programs, James was given a free mobile phone, tablet and 6 months internet WiFi access. With the 1-1 support and the tools he had received, James is now able to communicate via email, carry out his online job searches/applications and update his UC journal without relying on his friends and families. Although no offer of a job yet, James is still very pleased having had a job interview after applying for the job online via Indeed. To further improve his employability, Torus Foundation has signed James up to a forklift training and is waiting for a start date.
“As I have never owned a phone and not been online before, the program has given me essential skills and directions to overcome my confidence and employment barrier. I have missed out so much being digitally excluded… I am now much more motivated and confident.. Thank you..”
Catherine Waters, Age 55, Wirral.
Learner with Age UK
Cath had no previous I.T. experience or Qualifications before she started the course. She currently is a Special Guardian for her Nephew. Because of this commitment she decided to give up her employment in 2019. This, although not ideal, she believes was a necessity.
During the course Cath received 1-1 tuition, she was provided with a Learner Pack which contained literature specific to the course, weekly feedback and progress reports that were aligned to her agreed outcomes/goals and was provided with a number of possible progressions routes. She also received travel expenses to and from the course.
Cath was able to complete all nine modules on the Learn My Way Platform by week 4. In addition, she also managed to complete several word processing exercises, send and receive emails including attachment, and completed registration with Online Job Search websites utilising the basic skills learnt on the course.
Cath has registered with Reach Out and Restart, this will enable her to continue her learning journey. This course suited Cath because it offered her the opportunity to improve her Digital & Employability Skills. In addition to this she believes it has helped raise her confidence and self-esteem.
“I can actually use a laptop now, that’s down to the course tutors at Age UK Wirral”
Nina Butt, Age 50, Birkenhead
Learner with WEA
Nina has been unemployed for years due to having children. She enjoys yoga and art and attends Tomorrows Women’s Wirral (TWW) where she meets friends and takes part in small courses. This is where she heard about the Include IT Mersey course. She said,
“I chose to do an IT course because I knew nothing about computers and was quite scared to use one and you need to use a computer to get a job nowadays”
After starting the course she realised it’s really not as hard as she thought it would be and started to really enjoy going. The tutor was really easy to talk to and helped understand computers were nothing to be afraid of. Other than gaining digital skills Nina has been made more confident to further her skills and she has gone onto doing business documents where she learned about spread sheets, adding pictures to your documents and making your own business letterheads.
The course has made a big difference to Nina’s life. She said
“Doing the course has given me the confidence to start college were I’ll be doing a pre-access to nursing and I’d never thought I would be going to college as I hated school.”
“Jill (Tutor) was so easy to talk to and so understanding of my needs and wants and will help in any way she can”.
Suzanne Hilliard, Age 59, Allerton.
Learner with Greenbank
Suzanne was a legal secretary up until 2016. She than began to suffer with hearing loss and severe menopause symptoms and stress. She took voluntary redundancy and has been unemployed since then but now wishes to return to work. Her hobbies are reading and walking.
Suzanne was referred to the course by the women’s charity WHISC (women’s health, information and support centre). Although she had previously worked on a computer in her last role, she said a lot had hanged in the 5 years she has been unemployed. Suzanne Said,
“I had never applied for jobs online and was apprehensive of using the internet”.
She really liked the way the tutor ran the course, there was lots of interesting tasks to do each week and she could also follow the online course at home at her own pace. Suzanne said that the course helped her feel more confident because she could cope with her hearing difficulties. She would chat with the other learners in the group and she could always hear the tutor very clearly. Suzanne said,
“It gave me a boost and I feel much more confident carrying out my job searching and applying for jobs and more confident in general about my daily activities. I really enjoyed the course and Roz (Tutor) made it very interesting and fun to learn”.
Jean Halton, Age 65, Halton.
Learner with WEA.
Let me tell you about me before I share my Include I.T. Mersey story. I am a 65 year young female and suffer with depression and anxiety. I live alone with no close family near by, plus I’m really fed up with Covid lockdown. Well that’s the negativity out of the way.
On the positive side I can truly, honestly say that taking this course has been enjoyable, interesting and motivating. Due to the second lockdown my course was done from home. Although I would have liked to have been in a classroom environment, this option was the next best thing. The tools provided along with excellent support from the tutor was absolutely amazing.
The curriculum can be done at your own pace. I had a few little wobbles along the way. All I can say is to be honest with yourself and the tutor and you will soon be back on track. The main thing I’m grateful for is the structure in my daily life that this course has given back to me.
I’m no computer whiz but have learned new skills and my interest has definitely been piqued. I am sad that this course is now finished, however I am now embarking on to the next stage suitable to me by enrolling for another computer course at the Acorn Learning Center. This is something I would not have done if I had not participated in the Include I.T. Mersey course.
I would highly recommend the course. As previously mentioned the tools provided and the support given is second to none. Contact is available via telephone support or zoom meetings so the sense of being socially active and involved is there.
Good Luck and happy learning to all future participants!
Stephen McNicholas Age 59, Wirral
Learner with Age UK Wirral
Stephen worked with Airbus for 20 years. He is married with two grown children and two grandchildren. He enjoys golf, DIY and playing with his grandchildren.
Stephen had poor IT skills and wished to improve these to find employment; he was advised about the course by his Job Center work coach.
The course was delivered remotely due to Covid restrictions which at times was tricky because of WiFi connection issues. Although he would have preferred a classroom delivery and to use a laptop, Stephen received a tablet to help him do the course at home and support from the tutors. Stephen Said,
“The course has enabled me to look for and apply for employment online”.
He has now found part time employment as a handyman.
Phil Martin, Age 66, St. Helens
Learner with Torus Foundation
Phil has owned his own business for 22 years, until Covid-19 hit. He and his wife were successfully running a driving business where they worked with local companies in the area to drive personnel to airports, railways, hotels etc. for business purposes. When Covid-19 hit in March 2020, travel stopped and so did the business. Even now 18 months down the line people are still not travelling and the companies they were working with are not back to normal. Although Phil was thinking about retiring anyway, Covid-19, he said, made the decision for him. However, he still wanted some part time work.
Phil found a few short term jobs including; helping his son in law with his electrical business and various driving jobs. One of those jobs, delivering parcels involved using a phone application which Phil found difficult to work. He decided that, because of the need to use this technology, the job was not for him.
Fortunately, Phil’s wife works on the Include IT Mersey project, which is how he knew about the course. He said he could manage emails, but he had no clue about anything else about computers as his wife did all the paperwork and banking side of the business. Covid-19 made him think more about the future and he felt uncertain about it. In case he decides he wants to do something different as he gets older, he thought it would be a good idea to do the course to learn some skills that would prepare him better. He wanted to learn how to use a tablet and computers, for things like online banking and looking for jobs.
Phil completed the course during the lockdown and so all the learning was done remotely. He stayed on the course because of the tutor and because what he was learning he found really useful. He said
“James is a great tutor, absolutely marvelous…
I would have loved to be in the classroom with other people like myself, discussing what we’re doing and how it helps us going forward in our lives”.
As well as learning digital skills like word documents, excel spreadsheets, online shopping and banking, he has become more confident and secure about future prospects. He expects everything in the future to be online whether we like it or not, and so feels he is now more prepared and has more options and opportunities. He said “there’s a generation who has never really bothered with computers like me and it opened my eyes. To anyone like me, I say take this course! …it’s absolutely superb.”
As well as being able to search for jobs online, Phil has the opportunity to go onto further training in computers to expand his knowledge and skills , which his tutor James, has offered to help with and point him in the right direction when and if he feels he wants to. He is even thinking of starting a little online business, which he would never have thought about doing 3 or 4 years ago.
Peter Cook, Aged 60, Speke.
Learner with Rotunda.
Peter is married and not employed due to having a disability. Peter’s dad was a head teacher of a Junior school in Netherton, but he didn’t push his children into education and allowed them to make their own choices. He worked as a mechanic following an apprenticeship at 16 years old in 1977, and this has been his full career. Towards the end of his career, he was an MOT testing specialist. Peter is now interested in progressing his education and is looking at doing Business Administration
He saw the Include I.T. Mersey course advertised on Facebook and contacted Rotunda from there.
Peter didn’t have any experience of using computers before this course. He felt that he picked the skills up quickly and felt very proud of completing after leaving school in without having collected any CSE or O Level certificates.
Peter said “you can do the course at your own pace”. He had a good relationship with his tutors and this helped him to enjoy the course. Peter’s wife also took up the course and really enjoyed it progressing onto doing ECDL and Math’s.
He now has a laptop that has opened up a whole new world. Now he has been given information and awareness on scams, he can book appointments and mark purchases online. Rather than watching TV, Peter is enjoying teaching himself new skills following on from the basics learnt on the course. It has opened up his mind up and occupied his brain, although he does still enjoy reading and has found the Kindle bookshop really useful.
Peter is grateful that he got the opportunity to do the course and said it has given him a new lease of life.
Karen McGhee, Age 52, Runcorn
Leaner with WEA
I moved from Scotland to Runcorn when I was a teenager. Since then I have worked in a wide variety of jobs. Before the pandemic I was working as a cleaner/chambermaid. I love gardening, music, reading, cooking and baking and I would described myself as a socially outgoing person.
I heard about the course because I was working with Halton people into jobs as I had come out of work due to my knee. They knew that I had very little experience using computers which made looking for jobs hard.
I tried the first session as a taster but I liked it straight away. It was relaxed and friendly and we had a laugh. I never had any IT skills before the course.
I stayed on the course because I really wanted to learn how to do things on the computer for myself so I didn’t have to ask other people. I like coming to learn, I like the people and I like having my own tablet and the ability to go online at home.
Other than gaining digital skills, I have met other people and I have contacted the Woman’s Organisation in Liverpool as I have started to believe that I could set up a business.
Other things that have changed in my life as a result of coming on the course are that I don’t have someone with me when I wan to update my UC journal. I can look for and apply for jobs myself. My family are very relieved!! I feel a bit more involved now I can use technology.
Jamie, aged 30 from Wirral
Learner with Age UK Wirral
Jamie lives alone with his dog and his family live close by. He is deaf in one ear and has asthma, he is currently unemployed, and the housing association is doing repairs and work on his house so he is limited for outside activity at this time. He enjoys taking his dog for walks, fishing and computer gaming. When Jamie first left education he did seasonal work at Park Hampers where his girlfriend also worked. He left there when he was about 21 years old to care for his girlfriend who was ill for about 5 – 6 years. He did do a plastering course but did not complete it. After that he has done mostly agency work in warehousing, picking, and packing.
Jamie became unemployed in September 2020 and started the Include I.T. Mersey course in October 2020. Jamie was referred to the course by Alison Nixon at Positive Directions who is still in regular contact supporting him. Jamie had some IT skills prior to the course but he wanted to refresh and upgrade his skills to look for and apply for employment. Positive Directions encouraged him to enrol.
The course was conducted remotely due to Covid restrictions. Jamie said he received regular contact, encouragement and support from the tutors, with phone calls, texts, and screen sharing.
After completing the course he found employment through an agency at a warehouse and started work in November 2020. Unfortunately he was laid off without notice in January 2021. Despite this set back Jamie feels more confident in himself and his IT skills due to completing the Include I.T. Mersey course. He has also been able to address and resolve some of the maintenance problems at his house and communicate more effectively with the housing provider.
Victoria, Aged 56, From Newton-Le-Willows
Learner with Torus Foundation
Victoria was born in Kenya where she spent her childhood with a large extended family. She married in 1983 and they had 4 children. While living in Kenya, Victoria was a farmer. She farmed vegetables which she enjoyed very much and this also helped her to feed her family.
In 1989, the couple came over to the UK and lived in Hull where her husband studied architecture. They both worked very hard to fund his education as they had no sponsorship or any kind of financial support. He studied for many years eventually getting his PhD in Architecture and his dream job as an Architect for St. Helen’s Council. Victoria was working as a Carer supporting adults with learning disabilities and also loved her job. Meanwhile, they had brought their children over from Kenya and had settled into life in the UK.
Sadly, in 2015, Victoria’s husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and very soon afterwards passed away. Life became very difficult. Although she was putting on a brave face for the sake of her children she was actually struggling with her life and was in a very dark place. She felt she had nothing to live for. This was exasperated by financial difficulties and as a result found herself in arrears with her rent.
It was at this point, when Victoria felt she was at her lowest, that Torus staff had found her to be struggling and as well as giving her support also referred her to social services who sent someone to see her.
Victoria tells us that at this point her life turned around. Amanda referred her to the Include IT Mersey course at Torus. She had no ideas about IT and had no confidence in her ability to learn. She would miss sessions and make excuses not to attend. However, James Ng (tutor) and Amanda (Social Worker) worked together to support and encourage her. She told herself that if people where willing to accept her onto the course then she should make the effort to complete it.
Victoria said ‘James is very patient with us and this help a lot’. Since completing the course Victoria has had the confidence to have a go at other things to try to learn new skills.
‘I tried carpentry, and I didn’t like it but was pleased to have tried it. I have tried other things, gardening for example but this was not for me. I really like IT. I had the confidence to go onto St. Helen’s College website and register myself on more IT courses. I did level 1 IT course and am looking forward to doing level 2. I have also signed up to do a business course with St. Helen’s Chamber.’
Alongside this, Victoria has registered onto Torus’ volunteer programme and is helping other people on the Include IT Mersey course. She is looking forward to going on the business course and after doing some research is considering setting up her own business importing rare poppies and she sees this as her starting point.
‘By coming here I have started to build in confidence and have the potential of doing something for myself. This has made a very big difference to my life and I have come so very far. My kids cannot believe the change in me, just through coming to this course. And it’s not just me, others are feeling a positive impact on their lives outside of the course. I am meeting people, making friends and I have the confidence to tell others about the course. People ask me ‘What is my secret?’ as they have recognised a positive change in my life. Keep this project going! Spread the word about the organisations that are helping so many people!’
Clare and Christina Foran, aged 57 and 53, from Aigburth.
Lerner with Greenbank College
Clare and Christina are two sisters that completed the Include-IT Mersey course at Greenbank College in August 2019.
Christina and Clare have both worked in an office for most of their working life, Clare for over 30 years. Both sisters were made redundant due to changes in the workplace and an unsettled economy. Christina did some work on temporary contracts but decided to take a break from work due to a change in her personal circumstances. Eventually they both wanted to get back into the job market and ultimately full time employment. They realised that the world is changing and the job market is now very dependent on technology so they would have to find employment via the internet. Clare explained that “It has been quite daunting getting to grips with the new technology” and similarly Christina was concerned she didn’t have the computer skills to search for jobs online and felt she needed to end her “Technophobia”.
They first engaged with the Include IT Mersey Project through an advert in their local newspaper “The Link”. From there they met their tutor, Roz. Christina told us that Roz made her feel very welcome. She said “She is very supportive, patient and enthusiastic for you to embrace new skills”. Clare has gained more confidence and knowledge each week. Apart from gaining essential IT skills, Clare told us that she “Didn’t know how to seek help in finding work”, they have now both realised that there is help available from so many different people and organisations. Roz arranged for the national careers service to speak to them were they received support in producing a CV. They both now have an up to date CV that they can use to apply for jobs. Christina added
“My confidence has improved; it has broken my routine and made me focus”.
After completing the program the two sisters are now both actively looking for and applying for jobs online. Clare has been asking for further training to continue her progress towards finding work.
A final word from the sisters, Christina says “A very big thank you to Roz, Sefton CVS and the National Lottery. I would like also to thank Greenbank College for providing a relaxed and friendly atmosphere to learn”.
Clare says “I have been very grateful to Roz and the welcoming experience at Greenbank”.
Phillip, aged 51, from Widnes.
Learner with WEA
Phillip attends WEA’s Include IT Mersey class in Runcorn. He told us ‘I was really close to my dad who died when I was 13 years old. This destroyed who I was and unfortunately I turned into a drug addict for 32 years which ruined every part of my life. I have a really vivid memory of when I was child thinking ‘ I wonder what I’ll be doing when I am 50 years old?.’ Do you know where I was? Locked up on remand in HMP Altcourse! This made something inside me click and I realised I couldn’t carry on ruining my life. I was homeless with nothing. Fortunately Nightstop (a Homeless project) looked past the wreck sat in front of them and gave me a room in a shared house. This has led to me now being drug free and starting to rebuild my life. I am so grateful for what Nightstop have given me that I am doing a 222 miles sponsored bike ride in March to raise money to help people in the same situation that I was in and try to repay what I have been given. I love bike riding, it is therapy for me. The date I have chosen to do this bike ride is the date my dad died so I can try and put this behind me. My aim now is to get my own accommodation and spend the rest of my life in peace now that I am finally free of the madness I spent so much of my life living in. My life now is just concentrating on my amazing children who are doing really well in life despite having a father who messed up badly. And despite everything they still love me and that is all what matters to me now.’
Phillip started the course because he needed some structure and stability to his week. He liked the idea of a relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to move towards his own personal goals. He got on well with the group and felt supported with the bike ride and moving forward in his life. “I am focused and determined to move forward”. The course has allowed Phillip to complete a Food Hygiene Certificate and plan his route for his sponsored bike ride. He has been able to complete posters to promote his event and produce a sponsorship form. In summary, the Include IT Mersey course has allowed Phillip to move forward towards his goals at his own pace. Phil now volunteers in the community kitchen at CGL Widnes. He is going to complete his level 2 Food and Hygiene in Catering Certificate and Barista training. Phil is moving forward and is an inspiration to everyone.
Unfortunately, since meeting with Phil to write up his case study, he has had a bad accident resulting in a broken shoulder. His charity bike ride will likely be postponed. We wish him a speedy recovery.
Lesley Ann, Age 37, from Wirral
Learner with WEA
Lesley heard about the course through Tomorrows Women – a fantastic project based in Wirral that supports women through a variety of different interventions. WEA are in the second year of running the Include IT Mersey course at this venue.
She started the course because she needed help to get where she needed to be to gain employment, her biggest wish. She got support to do a CV, write cover letters and practice interview techniques. She liked the course and continued to attend because as well as gaining IT skills, she was gaining life skills and confidence. Additionally she made friends and has a better social life.
In the time while Lesley was on the course, she gained the skills and the confidence to sort out her debts, secured a good new home, a new job and ultimately a better life.
Lesley told us that she didn’t have a good start in life. She’d been out of work for 10 years, had a lot of mental health problems and losses in the family which all seemed to have lead to a break down. However, she says she is now very happy, has a lot more confidence and as a result of the course is currently in full time employment and working with debt advisors. She feels she has got her life back!
Lesley states “Since starting the course my life has gone so fast paced into a better lifestyle, I couldn’t have done it without Gill’s (tutor) help and support. I have better confidence a better life and am not looking back. 2 years ago I lost everything and turned to alcohol and drugs. I’ve come so far and I am so grateful for all the support.”
Julie, Aged 53, from Runcorn
Learner with WEA
Julie attended a course in Castlefields Community Centre. In the past Julie has been a Complementary Therapist, a Clinical Hypnotherapist, a Spiritual Medium and a Reiki Master among delivering other complementary therapies.
Julie came along to the Include-IT Mersey course to improve her chances of gaining employment and the skills to consider starting her own business.
Julie told us “I was given support from a lovely, friendly group. Everyone was supportive of each others journeys. There was a relaxed, safe, fun environment and you learn best when you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself. I found the course informative in a relaxed atmosphere. It gave me the permission to widen my horizons and think bigger. The tutors were incredibly welcoming and inspiring encouraged me to think ‘outside the box’ and that all my goals are achievable.”
While on the course Julie achieved a City & Guilds Online Basics certificate. The course gave her more confidence to apply for jobs and she is employed now as a Care Worker. The course has also inspired her to set up her own business as a Holistic Therapist specialising in Medium Healing as well as to take up further learning. Julie is also doing an online course in counselling.
Helen Barker October 2019
Vera Keating, Aged 56, from Kirkdale
Learner with Rotunda
Vera recently returned to the UK after living in Cyprus with her 3 grandchildren of whom she has guardianship. Because of this, Vera wanted to learn IT skills as she wanted to be able to help the children learn, not just learning about computers, but also using these skills to help teach the children other related topics such as English and maths. A friend of Vera’s who works at Rotunda College told her about the Include-IT Mersey course.
Vera told us “The advice was brilliant, the tutor asked us about what we really needed before we started the course. Throughout the course, there wasn’t a question that I wasn’t comfortable to ask. It gave me the confidence to learn new skills and I was encouraged to practice them. I’m not scared to use a computer any more. The course has given me the confidence to help the grand kids. I now know how to do email properly and add attachments.”
One of Vera’s main aims moving forward is to learn how to teach. She has worked for 35 years as a hairdresser. Rotunda College gave Vera the opportunity to teach a basic hairdressing course. It was her first time teaching a group of learners.
VOLA’s Quality Manager went along to visit Vera at a lesson in Rotunda where she was teaching a group of learners how to put long hair up into a bun. She was delighted to see an interactive and vibrant class with everyone having the opportunity to have a go with the long-haired learners doubling up as models. Vera certainly is a natural tutor.
Rotunda is supporting Vera to become a qualified tutor. Vera told us “I couldn’t be more grateful to Rotunda. I have had more opportunities opened up to me, and they slot into my daily routine with the kids.”
Valerie and Trevor, aged 57 and 58, from Wirral.
Learners with Age UK, Wirral.
Trevor and Valerie are childhood sweethearts who met when they were 15 and 14 in school. 43 years later they are still together having been married for 34 years and raising two boys (now 33 and 31).
Their first child, David, has had additional needs from birth and was diagnosed with ADHD as well as an eating disorder in his early years. Trevor has been his main carer throughout his life and until July 2019 the family have claimed income support. Valerie was also the main carer for her Father.
A recent reassessment of David’s benefits meant that he lost his DLA and therefore Trevor was no longer able to claim Income Support for the family. Trevor has had to claim Universal Credit and this had meant a big change to the way the family live. Their younger son has also recently moved back into the family home.
David has found himself a job and is working in an industrial laundry. Despite a rocky start, he has settled into the job, thanks to a supportive employer, and enjoys the regular routine that suits him.
I met with the couple in December 2019 and on speaking to them found that despite these big changes, Trevor and Valerie have met the challenge of their new benefits regime without complaint and despite it being a very scary time for them, without any reservations.
Trevor told me ‘I was worried about the next steps, because I haven’t worked for so long. I didn’t understand Universal Credit.’ Valerie added ‘We were backwards and forwards so many times to the Job Centre that our heads were spinning.’
They were referred to the Include IT Mersey course by their Job Coach at the JCP. Up until this time, Trevor had barely used a computer. They have one at home which he used for YouTube and Facebook, but that was all. The couple still withdrew their benefits in cash every payment day and paid all of their bills in cash.
Trevor needed help doing a CV and the JCP advisor phoned Age UK Wirral while they were there. They had missed the first session but the Adviser managed to persuade the tutor to take them on in week two rather than wait for the next course.
Trevor said ‘Val is more laid back than me, but I was so panicked in case I couldn’t find the Johnson Foundation that I came down on my bike first to find it. I tried to find it on google maps but I wasn’t confident I had the right place. I had to go through it all again when we needed to go to Meadowcroft on the Thursday.’
Both Trevor and Valerie told me that they found the course really rewarding. They do a lot together, so being able to attend and support each other was great. They both found the course useful as well as giving them confidence, using email for example, or short cuts on the keyboard.
The couple have set up their first Direct Debit and are saving money by doing this alongside going paperless. They have used their bank card for the first time to pay bills. Alongside this, they are both learning more about their phones and how to download apps that help them to budget their finances.
They have also enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and feel a lot more like part of society and being active citizens.
The couple found their tutors to be very supportive, patient and enjoyed the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the sessions.
The couple’s main motivation for attending the course is to be able to get jobs that will enable them to have a bit more money to spend on the family.
While attending the employability skills sessions with John, the couple were able to discuss their personal strengths and weaknesses and discuss how what they perceived to be weaknesses can actually be positives. For example, Trevor told me that he thought being fastidious and pedantic was a weakness, but as he has ambitions to be a painter and decorator, this is actually a positive.
Val said ‘I didn’t think I had any skills, but when asked to think about it realised I’ve been a mother, a carer and a gardener.’
Valerie would love to work in a café and Trevor would like to work in construction. Trevor is doing a course to get his CSCS card to support this and Valerie has an interview as a domestic this week.
I wish this lovely couple the very best of luck!
Janette, aged 56, from Kensington.
Learner with Everton Development Trust (EDT).
Janette was born in Liverpool and has lived here all her life. She attended Notre Dame School in Everton where she successfully gained her O’Levels. After leaving school Janette went to work for the Civil Service as a clerical worker and among other things was based for 12 years in the Artificial Limb center in Mill Road. After being made redundant she took some time off to care for her Mum, but it was after this time in her life when she found it difficult to get back into paid work.
I went to EDT in Everton to meet with Janette and to listen to her story. Janette told me
‘I attended a job club at Blackburne House and was told I needed to get better IT skills and that would help me to get a job. Also, part of my role as a campaigner is to produce posters and leaflets. I didn’t really fancy doing it, and I didn’t think that I would be able to do it!’
As well as volunteering her time to support people with mental health issues, Janette also works with organisations that campaign for peace.
Janette enrolled at EDT initially on an ECDL course. It soon became apparent that she needed to learn the basics first and so after chatting to staff at EDT was advised to do the Include-IT Mersey course. She started back in January 2019 and liked that she could drop in when she was able to and with what fitted around her lifestyle.
‘I didn’t have a great experience at school and this made me afraid to ask for help, but I liked that this didn’t feel like a formal classroom. It’s a very friendly place and I don’t feel stupid. I felt relaxed and comfortable attending. Bernie and Peter are very patient and having the 1-2-1 support is good as I am able to work at my own pace, especially as I don’t pick things up quickly.
I think it is especially good for older people and I have recommended the course to some of my friends. It has made me feel more confident, given me a routine and structure to my week. I have also met new people.’
Janette told me that she surprised herself by sticking it out. The course has made her feel more confident in her own abilities and she feels good when she achieves the little things.
Outside of the course, Janette has been able to apply the skills she has learnt to her voluntary work as a campaigner for peace and also has been able to support her parish with IT tasks such as producing certificates.
‘I definitely feel more confident and less phased about applying for a job. I have started to apply for jobs in admin and reception work.’
I visited Janette at EDT one Tuesday afternoon in October and I asked her what she was working on today, she told me ‘I am doing a table of nuclear weapons test ban treaty countries to use in a meeting!’
Saima, aged 50 , from Wirral
Learner with WEA
Saima started the course in April 2019. She was struggling in the UK as a migrant worker because as a qualified doctor in India her qualifications were not being recognised here in the UK. Here’s her story.
“I was a qualified GP and junior resident in Gynecology in India. My family migrated to the USA but my sister invited me to live with her in the UK and this is how I came to be in this country.
I have been coming to Tomorrows Women Wirral to access their services. The Include IT Mersey was advertised on their website. I contacted Gill and had a chat with her before meeting up to discuss the course to see if it was suited to my needs before I enrolled.
I needed to improve my IT skills, I wanted to know about online shopping, Facebook and other social media. I was aware that social media could be used for job search and I wanted help with looking and applying for jobs. It was important to me to learn how to stay safe online.
Gill also referred me to the National Careers Service. It has been hard to find out what my qualification enabled me to do in the UK and during the course this has been cleared up by the General Medical Counsel. I have been helped to write a cover letter and tweaked my CV as well as getting guidance on interview techniques. I began to feel more confident with job searching and I have since been invited for two interviews. I was struggling to even get interviews before.
I like the project and I love the people on the course. It has given me confidence, friends and structure to my week. I have learned about life in the UK in general and what other support is available to me.
My church has invited me to be a volunteer. I now work with the under privileged in my church and at the local hospice I am supporting women and babies on the Premature Baby Unit. I felt really isolated before, now I feel more confident generally and I have more friends”.
Since the interview, Saima has been offered a job as a GP in a Medical Centre in Birmingham. She is deciding whether relocating is advisable or whether to wait for something close to home and her support network.
Stephen Jacobs, aged 45 from Liverpool
Learner with Everton Development Trust (EDT)
Stephen hadn’t worked since 2010 but was desperate to get back into employment having worked for 23 years prior to this. His main experience was in construction and warehouse work, so he started the Include-IT Mersey course in order to improve his IT skills in the hopes of gaining employment in office-based work – as he says that heavy, manual work is becoming difficult for him as he gets older.
“This course has been a great help as I hadn’t worked for years. After getting help from staff and improving my CV, I have finally got a job again!”
Stephen made fantastic progress while on the course, so much so that he went on to start his European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) course, which is Level 2 in IT with Everton Development Trust (EDT). Stephen’s confidence was very low when he first came to EDT but this went from strength to strength as the course progressed.
Following his successful completion of the Include-IT Mersey course, Stephen has found full-time employment at HS Barrier Coatings who are a subcontractor based on the Cammel Lairds shipyard.
George Shaw, Digital Champion Volunteer from Halton
George has been volunteering as a Digital Champion with Include-IT Mersey for over a year. He was initially enrolled onto an Include-IT Mersey course after finding out about it through the job centre. He wasn’t sure if he would like it as he had attended courses in the past where he felt there was no support and no one to help.
However, George found this course “so good and with there being other volunteers to answer questions, I really got into it”.
George has volunteered in various roles since he was 17 so naturally, on completion of his course, he wanted to give back and therefore became a Digital Champion. “In this particular case, I knew what it was like to not to be able to ask questions and so am glad when people ask me for help and know there is someone there to answer.
When I wasn’t well a little while ago I went a bit quiet and stopped going out socialising but now with the volunteering, I’m doing all sorts of different things to help people. I’m out and about. It’s literally got me going again”.
The volunteering hasn’t just impacted on George’s social life either; he’s now able to impress his family with his I.T. knowledge!
“The granddaughters think I’m fantastic as they thought older people couldn’t learn new things, especially their granddad, but when I go in and show them something that I’ve learned, they go wow how do you know about that”!
The Include-IT Mersey course covers basic I.T. skills such as how to use email, using the internet and social media and employability skills such as writing a C.V. George assists the tutor to provide one to one support to learners:
“The people really seem to come out of themselves. It’s not just the computer part that’s of interest; it’s all of it. The course keeps learners more involved in things they are interested in, for example, one lady wanted to learn about the history of Widnes railways so we researched this together online.
George has seen the positive impact the course has made on the learners as well as benefitting him by helping others: “I think the most important thing is making the learners feel comfortable. It really helps with their confidence and this in turn helps me as I know I’ve got that person over a bump that they’ve been stuck on. They’re made up and I’m made up.”
Adele aged 48 from Wirral
Learner with WEA
“I’m from Liverpool originally and came to the Wirral for work. I previously worked as a market trader on a family stall and have all the patter. I have also been a café manager and a care assistant. For family reasons we sold the stall and I do miss it. It used to be a great laugh.”
Adele has suffered with severe health issues. “I’ve beaten cancer three times been a victim of domestic violence. My calcium glands were removed and I struggle with joints since my chemotherapy, some days I really struggle with mobility.”
Due to the difficulties Adele had been through in her personal life, she became an alcoholic and this resulted in a conviction of drink driving. “The Judge in court told me to enrol on the course at Tomorrow’s Women Wirral. I was terrified; I didn’t sleep at all the night before. I went into the group with a friend and that helped, I met Gill and enrolled. We had lots of breaks so this really helped too.
It’s chilled and not a bit like school, there is no pressure and people learn at their own speed, everybody supports everyone else and we do chat sometimes which is great. It’s boosted my confidence as well as given structure to my week. Its kept me motivated and I’ve made some great friends.”
On talking to other people in the group, it turns out that a local judge is a massive fan of Tomorrow’s Women Wirral and of the Include IT Mersey course. Adele isn’t the first woman that she has instructed to attend the course as part of the terms of their sentence. Adele also said that the course has helped her to keep compliant with her sentence. Moving forward Adele would like to study IT skills up to A’Level with Wirral Adult Learning.
“The course has a positive effect overall and the banter provides much needed cheering up when I am having a bad day.”
Esadig (Sam) Bashir aged 53 from Wirral
Learner with Age UK Wirral
Sam is originally from Sudan and has lived in UK for 29 years. Same has 5 children aged 17 to 23 and these include 2 sets of twins. Here’s Sam’s story:
“I came to the UK from Sudan 29 years ago and arrived in London without being able to speak a word of English. It was Hell! I struggled to get work and decided I would give it 6 months and if it didn’t work out for me I was going straight home.
I had a friend who lived in Chester who invited me to come and visit. During this time, I met a woman who became my girlfriend and she helped me a lot. She helped me learn English and helped me to get work and a place to live.
I started off working in the kitchen of a posh French restaurant in Chester called the Mill Hotel. I was working as a kitchen porter, but wanted to earn more money, so I asked the Chef what I needed to do to become a Chef and he told me to go and study. So that’s what I did! I enrolled at Liverpool College and became a Chef. I was lucky because I was able to go beck to the Mill Hotel as a Chef and worked there for many years.
Meanwhile, I met my wife, married and had children. Being a Chef means working long hours and these are mostly evenings and weekends, this became difficult once the children came along. I decided to become a Door Supervisor to earn better money and worked in clubs as security.
Working in clubs on the doors is not without its problems, it can be difficult at times. I have been subjected to racism on occasions, but I challenge it. One time an incident that involved the police lead me to talk to the individual involved rather than press charges. After talking to this man, I dropped the charges and we became very good friends to this day.
After a time of being unemployed, I realised that I was not going to get any work unless I learned how to use a computer. I knew I needed IT skills, I had never used a computer, but I didn’t know how to go about it. My Job Coach told me about the Include IT Mersey course and I enrolled on the course at Birkenhead Library. I couldn’t sleep the night before. I was so scared I was shaking.
I went along, and Lynne calmed me down and put me at ease. She taught me how to concentrate on one thing at a time, not to be overwhelmed, to take small steps. She is a wonderful lady.
I am enjoying the course very much. Lynne is very patient with me. It has opened my mind to different things; I have developed new skills and have a better chance of getting a job. I have had good support from Age UK Wirral.
Moving forward I hope to go to the local college and continue to improve my IT skills. I will renew my Security Licence with SIA (some of this is done online) and go back to security work”.
Learner with Age UK Wirral
“I chose the Include-IT Mersey course to help me learn about computers and to gain some confidence. Tutors are very patient and extremely helpful. The course put me on the road to becoming a volunteer at Age UK Wirral and has built my confidence in using IT” – Dawn Bailey, Age UK Wirral
The course tutors have made this a truly great experience – learning while having fun in a non-judgmental environment!
“I needed to join the rest of the population in becoming IT literate. I heard so many positive comments about the course I realised it was exactly what I needed. The course content has all been beneficial, but for me the social aspect of learning has been the best part! After spending so many years as a carer, it can be daunting to step out into a learning environment, but the course tutors have made this a truly great experience.
Jean Kelly, aged 54 from Runcorn
Learner with Halton Borough Council Adult Learning Centre
Jean had never used a computer before this course, and her confidence and self-esteem were low. Jean was scared of using her husband’s work computer in case she would break it or lose any of her husband’s work. Jean said she did not believe in herself and she was “too old” to learn.
Jean was given a personalised lesson plan which outlined her objectives for each session and a challenge for her to complete. Also, a list of tasks was provided for her to take control of her own learning and be able to evaluate what she has done and achieved.
“Absolutely brilliant. Great group, great tutor. I felt 100% supported to learn and looked forward to every class”
Jean was given individual support with the help of Include-IT Mersey Digital Champion Annette Summer, and has enjoyed working in a small class and having some one-to-one support to help her remember demonstrations that she has observed in the lesson.
Jean has completed all the Learn My Way modules and passed the City and Guilds ICT functional skills exam at Entry Level 2. She has also gained a City and Guilds certificate in Employability Skills at Entry level 3.
Carl, aged 53 from St Helens
Learner with Helena Partnerships and St Helens Chamber
Carl came to us at Helena Central in September 2017 primarily looking for work but recognising he needed help with is IT skills. Carl has a variety of health issues but was really keen and motivated to get back into work.
Carl needed a little support through the the programme as it became clear that once he got the hang of the Learn My Way system he was determined to work out for himself how to improve his skills.
Carl successfully completed the Include-IT Mersey course with Helena / St Helens Chamber in January 2018 and found that his IT skills have improved as a result of this course. Carl applied for a Facilities Assistant position with Carlisle Cleaning Services whilst he was undertaking his Include-IT Mersey course and was invited to an interview in early January 2018. Carl was successful at his interview and was offered full-time permanent contract on the 21st January 2018 and signed off Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
“I am really pleased with my new job and can’t thank Andy and Mike enough for their help and support these past months”
David Houghton, aged 60 from Liverpool
Learner with Granby Toxteth Development Trust
David was a full-time carer for his partner until their PIP Claim was rejected and David had to register for Job Seeker Allowance (JSA). David has no formal qualifications or computer skills, but had employment experience in construction.
“I really enjoyed it. I got a lot of useful information on how to get a job, basic IT skills and an updated CV!”
David’s confidence about using technology has soared. He is now the proud owner of a tablet computer that he uses daily, and has achieved his City & Guilds online basics certificate and is actively looking for work.