Prize recognises Brighton and Hove library helpers

Posted On 28 Nov 2011 at 12:24 am

Volunteers from across Brighton and Hove have helped the council scoop a prize from a national newspaper.

The volunteers teach newcomers to the internet how to get started as part of the Council Connect scheme run by Brighton and Hove City Council.

The project picked up the prize for innovation and progress in The Guardian Public Services Awards last week.

Under the scheme, volunteers offer one-to-one learning. They show beginners how to use the free internet service at libraries in Brighton and Hove. They also show people how to use email, shop online and join social networking sites.

The volunteers also show people how to find council services online from reserving a library book to paying rent.

Council figures show that 60 per cent of library IT users have no access to the internet at home.

Councillor Geoffrey Bowden, the council’s cabinet member for culture, said: “One of our top priorities is reducing inequality so it’s great to get a national award for a scheme which does exactly that.

“It’s also about improving the customer’s experience.

“Council Connect is a brilliant way to bring people out of the wilderness and on to the web.

“Poor access to knowledge and information is really debilitating for people and a real form of poverty in itself.

“The council, its staff and volunteers should be really proud to be enriching people’s lives and have that recognised nationally.”

The scheme has been operating at community libraries across Brighton and Hove since it started in March with about ten people a week receiving training.

Volunteers have provided some 500 hours of advice.

The council is looking for more volunteers who are confident with computers and the internet to come forward. Anyone available should contact library.volunteering@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

For more information on how to get help with getting online through Council Connect call 01273 290800.

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