Wales Co-operative Centre

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Digital Inclusion is one of our most effective weapons in the fight against poverty

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Get Merthyr Tydfil Online launch

Get Merthyr Tydfil Online Launch: (Left to Right) Angela Jones – Communities 2.0, Derek Walker, Chief Executive Wales Co-operative Centre, Mike Owen, Chief Executive Merthyr Valleys Homes, Eleanor Marks, Welsh Government, Ian Benbow, Head of Service, Social Regeneration, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council.

Derek Walker, Chief Executive of the Wales Co-operative Centre, looks at how digital inclusion, financial inclusion and social enterprise support work together to protect people from poverty and to mitigate against its impact.

Today is the launch of Get Swansea Online, a local initiative that aims to help Swansea’s estimated 45,000 digitally excluded residents to use the internet. This is the latest in a series of initiatives brokered by Communities 2.0, the Welsh Government digital inclusion project.

At yesterday’s launch of another initiative, Get Merthyr Tydfil Online, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty Jeff Cuthbert congratulated Communities 2.0 on its collaborative and partnership led approach. He emphasised the importance of helping people to get online and use the internet to save money and to find jobs. He stated that “digital exclusion compounds isolation” and said that Get Merthyr Tydfil Online has the potential to “reach the most digitally and financially excluded citizens” in the county. Last week the Minister visited a similar initiative in the Caia Park area of Wrexham. The political will is certainly there to ensure that everyone in Wales has access to the internet and the skills to use it effectively in the fight against poverty – but there is still more to be done.

We are very lucky here in the Wales Co-operative Centre. Through our work as lead partner of Communities 2.0, and through our own projects on financial inclusion and social enterprise development, we see the positive improvements our interventions can bring to the lives of people in real danger of falling below the bread line. Across Wales we see people, helped by Communities 2.0 and our financial inclusion initiatives, gain IT skills and use those skills to get jobs and get out of debt.  Communities 2.0 recently supported Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent MIND’s social enterprise arm ‘Training in MIND’ with an investment of nearly £5,000. The support will help pay for new laptop and desktop computers in their IT suite. The IT suite is manned by volunteers running drop-in sessions for people to update their IT skills and search for jobs. The organisation is currently setting up a work club for people who attend the centre. This is an excellent example of a social enterprise integrating digital inclusion and anti-poverty measures into its social aims and on the ground delivery.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre we also see the difference in our communities when they are engaged and enabled and can build social enterprises that reinvest their surpluses back into training and job creation. Galeri Caernarfon Cyf is a social enterprise that is focussed on regenerating the town of Caernarfon. Over the years it has regenerated properties and spaces in the town and opened up a highly successful arts centre. It now employs 36 full time equivalent jobs directly and supports over 40 in its tenant businesses. It is estimated that this one social enterprise has an economic impact of almost £1.3m to the economies of Gwynedd and Ynys Môn. In fact, Galeri is among just 6% of firms in Gwynedd that employ more than 25 people.

The Wales Co-operative Centre receives funding from a number of different sources to allow us to deliver our support work to communities across Wales. Our funders include the European Regional Development Fund, Welsh Government and the Oak Foundation.

This year, we have also led on a project which encourages individuals to use the services of local credit unions to help them ensure that their rent payment gets to their landlords – meaning that they can keep a roof over their own and their family’s heads. In Caerphilly, development staff are working directly with individuals to suggest ways in which they can use existing support and advice to make the money they have last longer.

We are also managing and promoting  which offers signposting to advice on saving and loans, debt and benefits. Access to digital resources is now intrinsically linked to good money management and to allowing individuals to take control of their own lives.

Financial and digital inclusion doesn’t just reduce isolation, but it allows freedom, liberty and empowerment. It allows individuals and groups to take their next steps forward – individually in the jobs market or as entrepreneurs, and collectively as empowered communities and social enterprises.

We believe that by integrating financial and digital inclusion with community engagement and real support for social enterprises and charities, it is possible to alleviate some of the poverty that currently exists in Wales. But, just as importantly, we believe that this sort of support is empowering. It allows people to make decisions about their own futures. It allows them to build their skills and their confidence and it empowers individuals to lift themselves out of poverty and stay out of it.


Sharing tools with web-wary generation

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Tweeting, Googling and profile posting have become an everyday part of modern life for the internet generation.

But for older people who are yet to become silver surfers, cyber-speak may as well be Greek.

And in Sketty Park work has got under way to break down the technological language barrier and introduce the area’s ageing population to the wonders of information superhighway.

More than 80 people over the age of 50 took part in a taster session at the Sketty Park Community Centre in a bid to get to grips with gadgets from iPads to laptops.

The project, known as Sketty Park Online, is part of the Welsh Government’s Communities 2.0 which is designed to help communities and small enterprises to make the most of the internet.

The event, which also featured a class in taking digital photographs, involved Sketty Park Communities First and Sketty Park Church.

Communities 2.0 spokesman Dan Jolley said: “The iPads were really popular. They don’t have keyboards or mice to contend with.

“Things like YouTube were used to show people how to post videos online. That went down really well.”

Swansea-based affordable housing group Coastal were also on hand to take the visitors through their paces in everything from digital photography to Twitter and Facebook.

Coastal spokesman Kevin Hedges said: “We had more than 80 people attend the event. It involved a variety of different technology that people could try out.

“People were interested in learning more and that is the point, to get people aware of different technology.”

Pensioner Val Pearce was one of the many older people who was given the chance to try her hand at the new technology at her fingertips.

The 67-year-old has lived in Sketty for 34 years and said she has used a laptop but only for very basic tasks.

She said: “I had a go at everything. They had computers and tablets there. I had never used the tablets before. They showed us Skype and they also showed us how to use Photoshop.

“I know quite a few of my neighbours who have family that live abroad and would like to use Skype.

“It was run as part of the Old Person’s Forum for IT. It was a very good chance to learn more.

“It was a lovely afternoon and a tutor has been employed who will now hold classes in the area that is going to cover quite a few different things such as family history, Skype, Twitter and Facebook.

“The iPads were fantastic. I played with them all day.”

Communities 2.0 senior marketing and public engagement officer Mark Smith said: “Sketty Park Online is aiming to work with older people, social housing tenants and unemployed people to help them build up digital skills that could help some become more employable and others to become more socially active and involved in their communities.

“It is more difficult for people in these social groups to access and make use of the internet.”


Visit to find more events and taster sessions like this.

Written by C Kenzie

July 28, 2011 at 10:57 am

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Are you helping older people get online?

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Communities 2.0 have produced a list of websites that older web users may find interesting or useful. We’ve found this handy to pique their interest and to get them started.


  • Amazon
  • uSwitch

Getting and keeping in touch

  • Webmail – e.g. Gmail or Yahoo! mail
  • Skype
  • Facebook

News websites

  • BBC
  • Twitter
  • Guardian

Local classifieds

  • Gumtree
  • Freecycle
  • Trovit


  • WordPress
  • Livejournal
  • Blogger


  • Twitter
  • Posterous
  • Tumblr


  • GransNet – conversational forum for older people
  • Saga website
  • IDF50 (I Don’t Feel Fifty)
  • Digital Unite – IT advice and discussion for older people


  • Your doctor’s surgery – making appointments online
  • Your local library – renewing library books online
  • UK crime map
  • Google Earth
  • UK Census Online
  • NHS Direct – health information
  • Manage your bank account online
  • iPlayer for BBC TV show and film playback
  • Metoffice – check the weather
  • Flickr – put your photos online
  • YouTube – videos
  • Yahoo! Answers – ask and answer questions on just about anything
  • DirectGov – renew car tax online and much, much more related to public services e.g. clean beaches map, consumer rights, pensions and travel

Download a copy of the PDF

Communities 2.0 have produced a series of How to guides. Read How to save money online – offers and vouchers websites for a guide to the coupon websites.
For more information and support with getting online and using new technologies, visit

Written by C Kenzie

July 5, 2011 at 9:23 am

Free events across Wales on Digital Day, Friday 20th May

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Friday 20th May is when we will be helping hundreds of people to get online for the first time and others to brush up on their computer skills.

Many events are being held across Wales to reach thousands of people – and they’re all free!

Digital Day is part of Adult Learners’ Week. Staff from Communities 2.0, the Welsh Assembly Government’s digital inclusion programme, will be among those, providing fun learning opportunities through Information Technology (IT).

Visit Click. Connect. Discover to find out where our Communities 2.0 staff will be on the day, and come along to meet them.

Find out about other events being held by local organisations across Wales springonline website (external website).

To help you help someone else get started with the web, we have a selection of ‘how to’ videos on our website. You could also show them Albert’s video where the 73-year-old ex-miner explains why getting online has been so important to him.

There will also be resources to print off and follow for people getting to grips with useful websites for the first time.

Digital Day has also been called ‘Silver Surfer’s Day’ in the past but this year events in Wales are open to everyone over the age of 16 as part of Adult Learners Week.

Previous blog post: Silver Surfers’ Day 2010 – but why should older people bother with the internet?

For more information and support with digital inclusion and getting online, visit

Written by C Kenzie

May 11, 2011 at 9:44 am

Website of the week – BBC Connect

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The BBC has announced the launch of BBC First Click campaign to help people get online.

BBC Connect is the website that will show you how to get involved, how to get other people involved and how to organise a ‘First Click’ session at your premises.

It provides information on the basics of using the internet and provides a phone number that you can call to discover where your nearest training session is being held.

The Communities 2.0 project run by the Wales Co-operative Centre in the guise of the Click.Connect.Discover campaign is a partner to BBC First Click in Wales.

Click.Connect.Discover can help you make more use of digital technologies. For more information , visit

Written by C Kenzie

October 19, 2010 at 9:07 am

Get Online week 18 – 24 October 2010

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This week is Get Online Week!

Over 3000 events are being held across the UK to help people Get Online with myguide.

myguide is a website designed to help people take their first steps with computers and the internet.

You can practice how to use email and play Splash & Grab – a fun way to register for myguide – and will be in with a chance of winning some fantastic prizes!

Get Online Week is sponsored by organisations such as the BBC, Post Office, BT and Three. Visit myguide website for more information or see Get Online Week on Facebook.

Click.Connect.Discover also provides taster sessions on the use of digital technology, including how to get online and using the internet. See for more information.

Click.Connect.Discover can help you make more use of digital technologies. For more information , visit

Written by C Kenzie

October 18, 2010 at 8:25 am

Digital Inclusion Wales Conference 2010

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You can now register your interest in the Digital Inclusion Wales Conference 2010, to be held in Swansea on 8th and 9th December. The Welsh Assembly Government event is for anyone who is interested in getting people online in Wales.

Live link to the US

Deputy Minister for Science, Innovation and Skills, Lesley Griffiths AM will open the event by talking about the Welsh Assembly Government’s latest digital inclusion policies and approaches. Marc Osten, an expert in helping Third Sector organisations get the most from the internet, will address the conference via a live link to the United States.

Something for everyone

There will be a series of seminars held across the two days, on a range of topics, including community broadband networks, website advice for small organisations, online trading, the delivery of public services online and many more. Bookings will open later this month, but you can now register your interest in attending, by going to www.clickconnectdiscover/conference, and submitting your name and e-mail address.

The event is expected to fill up quickly, so act early to avoid disappointment!

Click.Connect.Discover can help you make more use of digital technologies. For more information , visit

Written by C Kenzie

October 13, 2010 at 8:17 am

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