More than 200 residents now know their chips from their cookies thanks to free online training

A push by Peterborough City Council to get more people online has helped in excess of 200 residents get connected in the past six months alone.

One in eight people in the city still don't use the worldwide web on a regular basis but the city council is striving to change that through its digital inclusion programme.

The programme, which is offered free of charge, gives residents the chance to learn more about the internet and its benefits, gaining the skills and confidence they need to get the most out of their devices, whether it is a laptop, tablet or smart-phone. 

The training sessions include information about shopping online, filling in an online form, watching catch-up TV, connecting with families and friends and navigating the city council website to ask questions about services online or pay their council tax by direct debit.   

Dorothy Cato, 76, from Orton Malborne, who took part in the training, said: "What has amazed me is how much information is kept on the computer and how easy it is to tap into. I really do recommend these courses, because they are here, freely available. It's magic!" 

So far residents have taken part in sessions at community centres, friendship clubs, sheltered housing schemes, the job centre and libraries. Training is provided over five weeks, with each session lasting up to two hours.   

More recently sessions have been held at community hubs across the city, including at the Herlington Centre in Orton Malborne, Hampton Court in Westwood, Gladstone Park Community Centre and at voluntary organisations including Senior Stop in the city centre.  

As well as benefiting from the programme, people can get free internet access at their local library and at community hubs across the city which offer information and advice sessions and free courses. 

Councillor David Seaton, cabinet member for resources, said: "These days many people think nothing of using the internet for food shopping, checking their bank balance or to chat to family and friends. However, for some residents this is a daunting prospect and these are the people we want to support to give them the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of the worldwide web.

"Research indicates that those that are digitally excluded are far more likely to be financially excluded. This is why we are so determined that those people who want to get online can access the help they need to do so. 

"In the past six months more than 200 people have taken advantage of our digital training workshops and drop-in sessions which is fantastic. We now want to be able to expand the number of people and organisations providing the free digital training to the public so that more and more residents can benefit.

"Helping older people has been a particular focus of the programme and we have worked with the likes of Age UK and The Senior Stop in Peterborough to reach out more to this particular demographic."

Going forward the council is also looking to incorporate digital inclusion training into training packages run by partner organisations, so that more residents can be reached.
  
If you would like more information about signing up for digital inclusion training offered by the council,  please call Matthew Beckett on 01733 452266 or you can email matthew.beckett@peterborough.gov.uk. You can also contact the council's customer services via Facebook and Twitter.

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