Tech corner

KCOM helps residents get the most out of going online


Local residents of all ages are taking advantage of free monthly drop-in sessions hosted by Hull-based communications and IT services provider KCOM to discover how using the internet can boost their quality of life.

Based in KCOM’s Learning Zone centre on Carr Lane in Hull city centre, the monthly drop-in sessions are staffed by KCOM’s own volunteer “Digital Champions”.

Initially set up in conjunction with the national “Get Online” initiative in 2014, KCOM decided to continue the drop-in sessions. The Learning Zone is now an accredited UK Online Centre through the Tinder Foundation, a charity supporting digitally and socially excluded people to improve their lives through digital technology. 

The sessions help people of all ages and abilities get online and learn about the benefits of using the internet to stay in touch with friends and family, shop online, pay household bills and provide easy access to interests and information. The Learning Zone has 13 computers connected to the internet.

Chris Russell, 70, a first-time visitor to the drop-in centre, found out about the free sessions from staff at KCOM’s customer service centre and spread the word among her friends and family.

Mrs Russell, pictured above with KCOM digital champion Rob Hodgins, said: “These sessions are brilliant for everyone, especially older people who tend to know less about technology. It’s a great help to have these sessions in the city centre so it’s just a bus ride for a lot of people.

“I use Skype to stay in touch with family and shop online from retailers I trust, like Debenhams and Amazon. I’ll definitely come along to more sessions in future.”

George Marsh, 87, a resident of Hanover Court retirement home on Ferensway in Hull city centre, uses the internet to pursue his hobbies and interests and is a frequent visitor to the monthly sessions.

“I’m finding out a bit more each time I come. I did a course at Hull Central Library last year and it’s coming back to me, slowly and surely! I can use my computer at home and it passes the day. I’m still learning and it’s keeping my old brain going! They even give me a cup of coffee.”

Brendon Smurthwaite, KCOM’s community coordinator, said: “Our monthly sessions are open to anyone, whether they’re a complete beginner or someone who wants to improve their existing skills. Being online can make life a lot easier in all sorts of different ways and our volunteer Digital Champions are on hand to help everyone who comes through our doors.”

Research by the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2011 showed the value of being online in reducing feelings of social exclusion, particularly by providing access to e-mail and social networking sites.

As well as using social media sites and keeping in touch with family members and friends through Facebook and email, being able to go online at home means people can also access and participate in online support groups and forums focused on shared interests and activities.

KCOM’s drop-in sessions are held on the first Tuesday of every month from 9.30am to 11.30am at the Learning Zone on Carr Lane, between Primark and KCOM’s customer service centre.

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