Chromebook helps dyslexic Dudley resident to participate in local production of Aladdin

Residents in Dudley have benefitted from laptops and mobile devices, as well as from training on how to use them, in a bid to improve their digital and numeracy skills.

Ann Raybone is one of a number of resident who have benefitted from the scheme, as part of a Combined Authority initiative to give out digital devices to residents that have been identified as being most at need in the region.

West Midlands Mayor and WMCA Chair, Andy Street, met Ann during his recent visit to Fens Pool Community Centre where he spoke to residents, volunteers, community partners and education staff that have been involved in a co-ordinated approach to tackle digital exclusion and low levels of numeracy in the borough.

The Mayor heard how Ann often struggles to process written information such as forms because of her dyslexia. The Chromebook and on-hand training to help show Ann how to make the best use of her device will mean that she can more easily complete forms and write letters.

It will also help to her to learn her lines in audio format for her role in a local production of Aladdin she is taking part in at Mary Dermott Hall, Cosley in December.

The project at Fens Pool is part of WMCA’s £4m Connected Services digital inclusion scheme, working with local authorities and community partners to support over 20,000 residents in the region to get online.

It also benefits from part of WMCA’s £16.7m Multiply programme in a bid to improve numeracy and develop financial resilience skills for 18,000 residents. Mr Street, said:

“Our Multiply programme and Digital Inclusion initiatives help to improve the lives of residents right across our region most at risk of being digital excluded.

“It’s wonderful to have a chance to visit Fen’s Pool Community Centre to see how this funding is changing lives in very tangible ways.

“Whether it’s enhancing access to public services, boosting digital skills to advance employment prospects or taking steps to reduce feelings of isolation amongst some of the most vulnerable members of society, we know this money makes a tremendous difference.

“Together, we’re helping local people like Ann to get the skills they need to succeed in the world of work in the months and years ahead.”

Dorain is another resident who is being supported by Just Straight Talk with training and has been using her Chromebook to look for a job. She said:

“I was previously using my phone but I needed something easier to use and this Chromebook has helped me a lot.

“It is easy to carry around, lightweight and has a bigger touchscreen. I’ve also signed up to some courses and am refreshing my skills.”

Cllr Paul Bradley, deputy leader of Dudley Council, added: “The provision of digital devices and improving connectivity for residents is having a positive impact on a range of different levels.

“This includes supporting residents with being able to make online doctor’s appointments and submitting online benefits forms, to being able to apply for jobs online.

“Working in partnership with the WMCA and the community and voluntary sector has helped to identify where and who these devices would benefit the most and not only supply the device but also provide support and training on how to utilise this effectively.

“Alongside the training now made available through the Multiply programme to increase numeracy levels, this initiative aligns closely with our partnership work to increase digital skills and access in the borough and enables us to support those residents most at need.”

Just Straight Talk is one of the organisations that helps support with training and practical advice for people in the area to overcome barriers and achieve their life goals. Kate Beale, Managing Director, Just Straight Talk, said:

“Access to these devices has meant that our staff can supports residents locally and directly in the community, in cafes and local venues which are more suitable/accessible by the local community and the Multiply funding helps us to directly support residents on their journey through education and employment.”

Multiply is the new government funded programmes to help adults improve their numeracy and to develop financial resilience skills.


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