Help with computers: Worthing Homes offers free one-to-one support for everyone

When Janet Sharp found herself unemployed at the age of 61, she was told to search the web for work – but had absolutely no idea how to use a computer.

She said she walked out of the Job Centre with a leaflet and a piece of paper with a website address, a number and password.

“At that point, I didn’t know how to switch a computer on, let alone use it, “ said Janet.

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Luckily, Worthing Homes came to the rescue with its free courses, run in partnership with Adur and Worthing Councils and Sussex Learning Solutions.

Janet Sharp went from not even knowing how to turn on a computer to writing a CV and finding work, thanks to Worthing Homes' IT Junction

Now, Janet is one of their success stories, having not only found work but developed her IT skills further to help her get through the Covid-19 lockdown.

Janet completed several courses at the IT Junction resource centre and furthered her knowledge during the pandemic.

She said: “I’m not sure where I first saw the advert for the resource centre but luckily I did. I tried the library and once I was up and running I was left to it.

“I had to do something, so I phoned the resource centre and booked in for the next class. I expected to feel embarrassed by my non-existent IT skills and I was very nervous, too.

Covid restrictions in place and all appointments made are with a screen between client and tutor

“It took a while but slowly I began to feel more at ease, the atmosphere was happy and relaxed. Amber and all the volunteers were brilliant, not just with me but everyone.

“I enjoyed the lessons and the little achievements were a bonus. I learned to write a good CV, I took a back to work course and a NCFE level two in customer service, and managed to get two jobs.

“When we were locked down, it seemed so sudden and because I was in the vulnerable group, I had to stay in. So, I had to get everything delivered.

“I registered with five supermarkets and eventually managed to get a slot. I also registered with Amazon and was able to have presents delivered for birthdays, Easter and Christmas for my family.

“Needless to say I couldn’t have done any of the above without the IT skills I gained from the resource centre and I would have had to put myself at risk or be reliant on others.

“I would love to see everyone again and I still have a lot to learn.”

Amberlouise Everitt, lead tutor and volunteer co-ordinator, said Janet had been an amazing student and hers was a real success story.

She explained: “Janet got in touch with us again, having closed the centre during lockdown, and was able to use her computing skills to get her through lockdown.

“We are now open again and running a vital free local service, with Covid restrictions in place. All appointments made are with a screen between client and tutor.”

Worthing Homes has been running courses and bespoke support for ten years, and Amberlouise has been there since the start, organising a team of volunteers and running community computing classes, one-to-one support and Sure Futures programmes in the resource centre.

Worthing Homes’ community computing is open for pre-booked appointments on Wednesdays, 10am to 5pm. Free one-to-one sessions with a dedicated volunteer IT tutor can be booked by anyone by calling 01903 703100.

Amberlouise said “I am delighted we can offer support once again to those needing help with finding work or using devices such as iPads and mobile phones.

“We have been closed during lockdown and I am very aware this has left many people at a huge disadvantage in not being able to access online services or communicate with family via the internet.

“We hope now that we are open that we can address this issue and offer our local residents the computer-related support they so desperately need.”

Free individual help is available with job searches, CV tailoring, interview support, getting started with computers, navigating the web, security and online safety, and using Microsoft Office, Word, Excel and PowerPoint, as well as support with mobile phones, tablets and iPads.