Vital IT service celebrates 20 years in Dewsbury

Electronic Village held an open day at the weekend. Volunteer tutor Steve Goodfellow with Rachael Hepworth. (d311a437)
Electronic Village held an open day at the weekend. Volunteer tutor Steve Goodfellow with Rachael Hepworth. (d311a437)

From Facebook to hunting for jobs, computers and the internet are now vital parts of everyday life.

But many people, whether disadvantaged, disabled, or just lacking a bit of knowledge, are missing out because they are not computer literate.

That’s where Electronic Village comes in – a service which helps Kirklees people get to grips with modern technology. Previously known as The Disabled Peoples’ Electronic Village Hall, the charity has been running in Dewsbury for 20 years.

Found in Dewsbury Town Hall, they teach everything from the very basics for people wanting to learn for fun, to accredited qualifications to help people get back into work.

After finding herself out of work, Jeanette Peacock decided to enrol. Now she has completed most of the courses and volunteers at Electronic Village, passing in her knowledge to others.

“We have people who have never even switched on a computer in their lives,” said Jeanette, of Heckmondwike. “But by the time they leave they can do most things.”

Electronic Village help with job searches and teach the IT skills which are essential for many jobs in the 21st century. They also offer a social media course to give people the tools to keep in touch with family and friends.

“It is more relaxed and social than a classroom environment here,” said Jeanette. “It’s also about getting people out of the house and feeling better about themselves.

“When people are not working through illness or whatever reason it is often a vicious cycle and people spiral further down.

“People get confidence just from coming here. At the start they may be sat in a corner not interacting with anyone but there confidence builds up. You see a real change in them.”

Other courses, which are free to the unemployed, include book keeping and digital photography. Electronic Village is run by a handful of paid staff and around 30 volunteers. It relies on small sources of funding and donations and volunteers often fundraise to make ends meet.

Call 01924 453502 for more information.