Monday, 28 September 2015


Written by Local Reporter for @PoolePost

The Bournemouth and Poole area is credited with an astonishing growth in IT companies which rank among some of the UK's most successful. Good news for local commerce flourishing within what is sometimes called the Silicon Valley of the south.

But what advances are on offer for those who are just starting out in the digital jungle and may feel a little overwhelmed or excluded from accessing the world wide web?

"We want to include our tenants and leaseholders as much as possible," states Sandra Willson, PHP's resident involvement coordinator. "And have been delighted by the positive turnout and interest generate by our TRUST : Digital Engagement & Inclusion (DE&I) training day."

A day of real opportunity for tenants to find out more about the internet.

Keynote speaker Sarah Furness kicked off the morning with a thought provoking summary of the basic challenges faced by many in the age of advanced information technology. Delegates broke into groups and brainstormed ideas and shared back experience.

Elderly people, disabled residents and those struggling with severe debt, can so often be among the main groups of people left feeling painfully isolated if the ability to communicate is denied them, either through lack of basic IT skills or financial constraints.

Speakers at the DE&I training day addressed these issues and offered a range of solutions and contact information of organisations that help ease the obstacles of gaining digital access.

One delegate who is partially sighted explained how her world expanded significantly when someone helped her to download an App which enabled emails to be read aloud and helped her connect with friends and engage in debating within the social media community.

All that was needed to start was the time for someone to explain how the system worked and the funding (comparatively small) to install the App.

Residents at PHP's newly redeveloped Sterte block have been quick to utilize social media and have created their own social media Facebook group where members can publish helpful tips, offer unwanted items (such as furniture) to their neighbours and publicise community events. All rather like a good community newsletter; free, local and online.

Maybe the professional regional newspaper industry might like to review its sometimes hostile policy toward perceived rival content providers? Rather than distract and diminish locally based minority news publishers, bloggers, tweeters, YouTubers, why not embrace them?

Social responsibility expressed by a strong, established local newspaper brand, offering free WiFi access or hotspot login platforms, might genuinely be mutually rewarding for both community and local business.

As print newspapers decline, ad funded hyper local news platforms could be set to thrive as web channels and become vibrant focal points for neighborhood communication.

Readers now have a voice and certainly have opinions. Communities can be enriched by simple, old fashioned talking and listening. Widening inclusion possibilities helps us all to become more creatively interactive and less receptively passive.

Again, and put simply; communication needs a good two way flow. And the all too often the silent voices of the marginalised, financially disadvantaged, aged or physically vulnerable, do need to be heard.

The TRUST: Digital Engagement and Inclusion training day has helped empower ideas for conversation. Let PHP tenants lead the way and let's get started with it. Let's get digital. Let's get involved.

Free to use IT facilities are available in PHP's Beech House and nearby Poole Library currently has free training sessions and tutorials.

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