WCIT Charity Review WCIT Charity Review of 2017 - Page 9

WCIT CHARITY REVIEW THAMES REACH 09 Over 1,200 i-Reach digital training places filled by service users in 2017 Supporting people to build confidence, social networks and the skills they need to move forwards in their lives Thames Reach is one of the UK’s leading homelessness charities. Its mission is to assist homeless and vulnerable men and women, and to stop vulnerable people from becoming homeless. Janet had no computer at home, so continued to attend i-Reach to practise for her exams. Thames Reach worked with SocialBox.biz who donated a reconditioned laptop, and she enrolled on a further online NVQ course. Janet came to The Employment Academy at Thames Reach seeking to improve her job prospects. She worked part-time as a kitchen assistant on minimum wage at a school based over an hour away on public transport. The catering contract at her school had recently been taken over by a new company, which was trying to reduce her hours and was creating a hostile work environment. She has now found a better role within the catering industry, with improved hours and earnings. “I would encourage anyone to learn to use a computer. I found it hard work, especially the exams, but it was really worth it.” Janet joined i-Reach, a Digital Skills initiative at Thames Reach funded by WCIT, to improve her digital skills and support her job search. She had been reluctant to join i-Reach, saying “I hate computers, but don’t know how I can find another job without learning how to use them.” Her dyslexia had given her negative experiences of studying: “People think I’m stupid. I’m not, but it just takes me longer to learn things.” As her digital skills improved, her confidence grew, and she enrolled on the 16-week EL3 Digital Skills evening course that City Lit run at The Employment Academy. Thames Reach has repeatedly proven the importance of technology training for its service users Janet loves her new role and feels optimistic about the future. “Learning to use a computer has really changed my life. If my experiences can help encourage someone else then that’s great.” Catherine Parsons, Area Director, said “Thames Reach is delighted at the ongoing success of i-Reach in supporting people to build confidence, social networks and the skills they need to move forwards in their lives. We are grateful to the ongoing support of WCIT in enabling us to reach out to people who are often excluded.”