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DIGITAL CHAMPIONS POINT THE WAY.

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POINT began life in 2001, following a survey to determine how best to support young people in the Fishguard and surrounding area. Using their unique understanding of the extra obstacles that young people face in a largely rural area of high unemployment, POINT offer support covering social, educational and work related issues.

Their latest project fits perfectly into their commitment to bring the generations together and is right up the street of anyone struggling with Information technology ( I.T.).

Everyone knows that if you need to understand how your mobile works or how to coax the bugs out of your computer, you have to find someone who is under 25. And that young person has to have the patience of a saint.
I chatted with Helen Bingham and Jessica Palmer recently about how this is being made possible and I feel I can now say…hurrah…help is at hand!

Helen is new to her role at Point and already making waves as their Youth Skills Development Officer, so one of her tasks is to bring this Digital Champions project to life. She has already undertaken the mentor training and has only positive things to say about her new employers.

I asked her to tell me more about the Digital Champions.

“After carrying out some research, and spending time with a similar project in Saundersfoot, we have been working alongside John from Planed to recruit a team of young people , aged between 11 and 15 to support anyone with an I.T. problem.” She laughs, “ I have learned so much already.

“If you are over thirty you won’t have grown up with the sort of information and communication technology we have to work with these days, and it can be particularly difficult for older people. We have set up two sessions on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month from 3.30. to 4.30 where people can come to get support. People come with their tablets or laptops, or phones and get advice or information on a range of issues”

What kind of issues?

“It might be very simple. We want people to understand how their de-vices work. We will also show people how to shop online, which is a boon if you have difficulty getting out to the shops because of health issues or if you have a problem with transport. Lots of people are worried about paying bills online. Our aim will be to help people feel confident about shopping and banking safely.”

What other things are people concerned about?

“Technology is great for keeping in touch with family and friends either in the U.K. or abroad. We can help people to keep in touch by skype or messaging and email.”

What sort of issues have you dealt with so far?

“We all dread getting a new phone don’t we? We have had someone who was using a new phone to make calls but couldn’t transfer contacts from the old one. They were having to refer to the old one each time they wanted to make a call. We were able to help transfer the information from the old phone to the new one.”

With Xmas coming up soon, I would think you will be having a lot of enquiries like that about how to make the best of new xmas presents.

“We hope people will come and see us if they have a  problem. Often family members are too busy to really take the time. Our team have been trained , not only to support with any issues people bring but to take time and patience. We don’t mind if people need to take their time to get to grips with problems. We weren’t born with a tablet in our hands.”

What other things can people bring?

“ We can help with C.V.s. how to upload and store photographs, how to open attachments, or respond to an email. This technology can really help people stay in touch, make new contacts and even apply for jobs. We can also show people how to play games like Suduko, Solitaire , Scrabble. There are no ends to the possibilities.”

I play Boggle ( It’s a word search game) on my phone. It’s really addictive and I have a friend who plays chess with people all over the world. It’s marvellous when technology can bring people together.

“ Games are great, from solitaire to interactive games with other players, who can be anywhere in the world. We want to support people to get the best out of their devices and there are other benefits to the project.”

What kind of benefits?

“ Well it’s a great opportunity to get younger and older people together. Research shows that intergenerational work helps build stronger com-munities, reduces isolation and promotes better respect and understanding. It’s a huge boost to the confidence of our young people to have this training and then to be able to pass on their knowledge. It’s not just about Information Technology. Taking part means learning people skills. It teaches people about being part of a working team, and honouring commitments….all the skills we need to find employment. ”

Where are the sessions taking place?

“ We are running them from the Hatch at Parc-Y-Shwt in Fishguard.. Jessica tell me, “She is the volunteer coordinator for POINT. “ The HATCH is somewhere where people can also get a cup of coffee from the young people who have already undertaken Barrista training with Pembrokeshire College .”

That sounds great. Another opportunity for young people to add to their C.V.’s.

“ It’s not just that though, “Jessica adds,” We plan to be fully operational in the summer, serving hot drinks and cakes and biscuits. Meanwhile, we can be available throughout the winter for meetings and group events. It’s more opportunity for young people to gain some proper work experience and to boost their confidence.”

Helen tells me about the confidence building workshops that were run in the summer ( 2018) at Heatherton High Ropes for a group of young people between the ages of 17 and 21.

“ It was very successful,” she adds,” in teaching the young people about team work and self discipline. It was great fun too!”

There’s a lot going on here. What are the other ongoing projects?

The ladies tell me about Little Acorns which is a mother and baby group meeting, The  job club on, and a Hangout group, which offers a chance to meet up with friends but also to raise any personal issues that might be a problem.

Amongst the many opportunities to support with employment related issues, emotional wellbeing has not been forgotten. Check out the Point website below for more information.

“Over 500 young people are registered with us from across North Pembrokeshire,” Helen explains, “We will support with relationship issues, abuse and sexual exploitation, hobbies and general everyday worries. If someone can get to us, or contact us online we will do our best to support them. People should check out our website for more information about what we can do”

What have you got coming up?

“ There will be a film coming out in 2019 that will be shown at Theatr Gwaun about the St Nicolas rural community and the intergenerational work being done there. It looks at the history of the area and how things have changed over the years.” Jessica tells me.

“ We have been involved in a Dementia Awareness project with a choir of young people and some lovely events with Anne Hughes of Singing for Fun. That’s on going with screenings off films that are dementia friendly events at the Theatr Gwaun.”

“ We offer 25p meals on a regular basis, cooked by the staff, counselling services, drop ins and we have another recruitment coming up of our mentoring scheme.”

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Tell me more.

“ We have already recruited and trained 8 mentors,” Helen tells me, “I was one of those. Between us we have helped 21 young people directly and 50+ indirectly with a huge range of issues. We aim to add to that team very soon.”

Sounds interesting. I think Pembrokeshire Online CIC needs to come back another day to find out more.

http://www.pointypt.org.uk/

POINT Address:
Popworks
Parc-Y-Shwt
Fishguard
Pembrokeshire
SA65 9AP
Telephone:
01348 875467

POINT Means Jobs Address:
Printworks
Parc-Y-Shwt
Fishguard
Pembrokeshire
Telephone:
01348 871887

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Kitty Parsons

Kitty Parsons

In love with the sea, gifted with an almost superhuman ability to bring chaos into order. Mostly tired and often to be found hibernating through the winter on the sofa, and bobbing about in the ocean in summer.

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