Get Merthyr Tydfil Online set to Soar!
Zoar Chapel in Merthyr Tydfil has been a central part of life in the town since the middle of the 19th Century, long before the days of Facebook and Twitter. Yesterday, as Theatr Soar, it played host to an event that marked a new effort to help local people reap the benefits of digital technology.
The launch event for ‘Get Merthyr Tydfil Online’ was attended by representatives of organisations that will be involved in the campaign, working in partnership. Communities 2.0 – the Welsh Government’s digital inclusion programme – organised the launch with colleagues in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council and Merthyr Valley Homes.
Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, reiterated the fact that the Centre is the lead partner in Communities 2.0 and that the programme is doing vital work in supporting individuals, organisations and small enterprises to do more with digital technologies. Jeff Cuthbert, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty in Welsh Government, attended the event and said how not being online ‘restricts opportunities to improve lives’. This was borne out in a video that was played to the audience, telling the story of Deborah Price who secured a job after volunteering with Communities 2.0 in Merthyr Central Library.
We were given a tour of the Get Merthyr Tydfil Online website, an insight into digital inclusion work in social housing from Merthyr Valley Homes, with closing comments from Cllr. Phil Williams – Deputy Leader of Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council – who cited the value of partnership working in the campaign.
To round off the morning, we were given an opportunity to meet members of a local Job Club who had been attending computer classes, supported by Communities 2.0. One of the learners, Mark, told me why he wanted to learn more: “I’d been referred to the classes by my local Job Centre. It encouraged me to try something new, as I’d used computers for shopping online, downloading music and talking to people on Skype, but not for finding work or getting more qualifications. I’ve recently started an ECDL course. I’m hoping that all these courses and classes will lead to long-term employment for me and a better future. I’d even love to have a job in computers”.