ONE of the largest projects in the UK to help people get online and build their digital skills and confidence has had its official launch in Plymouth.

The Get IT Together project is a £330,000 city initiative, part of BT’s nationwide Connected Society programme.

It is run by the specialist digital inclusion charity Citizens Online, and helps people to gain online skills and confidence.

The three-year project is led by the council and has been funded by city partners including BT, Plymouth Community Homes, the Plymouth Health Community and Jobcentre Plus. Group sessions are already being held where people can learn at their own pace and get familiar with the internet and the opportunities it opens up.

Many more are being planned for the thousands of local people who are not confident using computers and want to learn how to get online.

Around 38,000 city homes are not yet connected to the internet. Without the internet, these people risk missing opportunities for education and work, and access to council and health services.

Council leader Tudor Evans, said:We know that some people find computers intimidating, but we make sure they can get to grips with the basics at their own pace and see where it takes them.
“It could take them to new work, to considerable savings in heating their homes and using online health and welfare services. It’s the way the world is going and we want to take people with us, not leave them behind.”

Paul Coles, Regional Programmes Manager for BT, who played a major founding role in the Plymouth project, said: “Not being able to use the internet can leave people isolated and disadvantaged.
“We are committed to helping people in Plymouth to get online and get the most out of the internet. This is the first exciting step in a journey to help people benefit from the online world.”

Lena Santoro, the project co-ordinator, will be talking about courses such as the North Prospect Community Learning, which is delivering IT courses focused on job search, and Plymouth Advice Centre for Employment, which is delivering basic IT sessions for learners.

Other delivery includes sessions with Library Services and Plymouth Community Homes.

As part of a recent Get Online Week, Get IT Together Plymouth worked with Citizens Advice Bureau and Plympton Library to help local residents to learn basic IT skills and shop online for the best deals.

Learners were also shown the best ways to stay safe online as many of them had expressed concerns about online fraud.