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Julian’s story: “It’s a new world”

Blog Positive People - Somerset 28 May 2021

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A person without everyday digital skills can feel excluded from accessing many essential services and can make searching and applying for jobs almost impossible. Being able to search for vacancies, and submit applications is standard practice these days. Thanks to organisations such as Cosmic and Inspired to Achieve (i2a), many people have been able to access equipment and gain new digital skills to build their online confidence.

Julian, aged 64 living in the Taunton area was one such person.

“I was told about the Pluss Positive People project at the job centre. They asked if I’d like some help with digital skills to help me looking for a job.

I2a are a social enterprise that provides advice and guidance to empower people to fulfil their potential. Through the Pluss Positive People programme, they were able to source a laptop for Julian and a smart phone to help him engage with the programme and access online services.

The worst challenge for me was using a computer. I’ve used them before, but I wasn’t feeling very confident and I’d not used a smartphone before, so learning to use one of those was completely new to me.

Cosmic is a social enterprise that operates across Devon and Somerset, who specialise in digital skills training. Digital inclusion is at the heart of what they do and a big part of their activity is working with individuals and organisations to equip people with a range of digital skills to make the most of online resources.

With a lack of important digital skills, Julian was effectively being prevented from moving forward and back into work. Cosmic, as part of the Pluss Positive People programme took the time to understand Julian’s circumstances and put together a support package to build his confidence and equip him with the essential digital skills that he desperately needed.

“I’ve had help learning how to use my new phone for everything, and I got one of the iPads from the library and had help with how to use that. I can even do a Zoom call on it! I use my phone all the time now and have a banking app, where I can check my balance and have even been able to pay my mortgage on there – before I had to keep ringing up.”

“Today I’ve a much better understanding of the computer world, and now I can use my phone to look up jobs and send emails, rather than going to the library two or three times a week. It’s a new world and it’s so much easier to communicate, it’s brilliant and much quicker than the postman!”

What about Julian’s future with his new found digital skills? Gill Gillot who is Julian’s change coach at i2a said: “Julian’s confidence has grown on the programme to the point of attending a welding bootcamp at Bridgwater and Taunton College, and now he’s researching some English courses. He’s also job seeking and has secured an interview at the Holiday Inn in Taunton, and with waiting to hear back from several other jobs, including a caretaker position in North Petherton.

It’s been a tough year for everyone, but I can honestly say that Julian has been proactive and eager to learn. I don’t think it will be long before Julian is employed. I have my fingers crossed!

We are all rooting for Julian and wish him all the best for the future.

If you would like to find out more about the Pluss Positive People programme or need some support with your digital skills visit our Positive People pages or call 0800 334 5525.