Leeds Libraries is running special free events this week to inspire people to learn digital skills during Get Online Week 2019, a national initiative encouraging people to take part in the digital world.

From 14-20 October, you can get free expert IT advice at a Techy Tea Party, try virtual reality, experiment with digital storytelling or learn the secrets of smartphones.

The city’s first Digital Health Hub also launches on 17 October at Cross Gates and District Good Neighbours. It will offer valuable support to access online NHS services.

With 500 public access computers available through the city’s 34 libraries and a skilled staff team, the library service is well placed to support residents to get online and learn new skills.

Get Online Session at The Compton Centre in Harehills. Library customer Melanie being supported by Librarian Abbey Preston.

The service leads the city’s 100% Digital Leeds campaign, one of the UK’s most successful digital inclusion initiatives. During the last 12 months alone:

  • 2,461 people completed 13,864 online courses at Leeds Libraries and partners
  • 66 organisations borrowed 549 tablets through Leeds Libraries’ award-winning tablet lending scheme, the biggest of its kind in the UK
  • 797 digital champion volunteers have been trained to support digitally excluded people

This work has a huge impact on local people. By embedding technology in support work with the isolated elderly, Leeds Irish Health and Homes saw clients’ memory and mood improve, as well as their ability to use online services. Tablet loans and digital training for staff have ensured that homeless 16 to 24-year-olds staying in Seacole Scheme emergency accommodation are less isolated, and offer vital independence and opportunities.

Andrea Ellison, Chief Librarian: “Across Leeds tens of thousands of adults still lack basic digital skills. We hope that Get Online Week encourages more previously digitally excluded people to start their digital journey at Leeds Libraries. We offer a fantastic range of free support for people of all ages and experience levels – from children’s coding clubs to introductions to using a computer.”

Councillor James Lewis, Executive Member for Resources: “Leeds Libraries is pioneering new approaches to ensure that all our communities have access to IT equipment and training. The 100% Digital Leeds programme works with over 100 partners, reaching thousands of people across the city. Residents are enjoying innovative schemes like TechMums, tablet lending and the 100% Digital Leeds: Digital Inclusion Fund.”

Over 20 Leeds Libraries settings run drop-in learning sessions on everything from basic IT skills and using the internet to job searching and online courses. Visit www.leeds.gov.uk/learning

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