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Can you help more people get online?

By Staff Reporter

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Learning about the internet and online devices.
Learning about the internet and online devices.

A FREE digital education service that has helped thousands of local people is looking for funding.

The Forres Online (FOL) digital project started in 2016 after Forres Area Community Trust (FACT) identified a lack of digital skills in many areas of local activity.

Since then, over 2000 people have had help from FOL, attended training or assisted as volunteers.

Project co-ordinator Janice Cooper joined as a tutor last summer and was based at Forres Library three days-a-week where she taught courses to SVQ level 4/5 Ecdl and gave digital taster sessions.

She said: "Last November, I took over as project co-ordinator and have been running the project with the assistance of key volunteer Jamie Nicol.

"We are hoping we can attract funding to continue with the project."

As well as the long term unemployed, job seekers and adults in low paid employment, many small business are owned and run by people over 55 who are unable to keep up with ongoing developments in technology.

Across Scotland, 800,000 people do not have basic digital skills to get on the internet which should help them keep in touch, learn new things, save money, find work and stay healthy.

FOL was set up to address such issues and work alongside existing digital learning services including Forres Library and Moray College.

It compliments existing provision, with one-to-one support, small group sessions, talks, outreach visits, community groups and more.

Weekly drop-in sessions at Weekly drop-in sessions at Forres Job Centre from 10am-noon on Tuesdays and Forres Town Hall on Tuesdays from 2-4pm and Fridays from 10am-noon are facilitated by trained volunteers.

"The aim is to become a recognized provider of community-led digital support services in Forres," said Janice. "We are well on our way to achieving this."

The project improves communication skills, as well as assisting access to information, government digital services and helping transactions.

Janice added: "We can help with applying online for passports, drivers licences and online forms.

"Also, assistance with problem solving on devices including laptops, tablets and mobile phones, job searching, CVs, online job applications as well as basic IT skills, social media, shopping and downloading apps.

"FOL was piloted in 2015 for eight months, after which it was funded by organisations including Berry Burn Community Fund and Digital Scotland.

"The future of the project lies in attracting further funding."

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