This morning I went to my first Get Online Week event of 2015 at Longley 4G Community Centre in Sheffield. It was a truly touching and enlightening experience.
There were a lot of people there who regularly attend the centre. People of different ages, from different backgrounds but for many of them the story was the same: they were unemployed and struggling to find work.
It was heartbreaking to hear some of their stories. The gentleman with me in the picture below is called Phillip. He is in his early 60s and suffers some health issues. He worked the same job for 25 years, a job which he enjoyed, and unfortunately was made redundant from. Since coming to Longley 4G he’s been applying for several jobs each week, sometimes as many as 20, but he never hears anything back.
Stories like this are the reason why we do what we do. Get Online Week is about having fun, a chat and a cup of tea, but it’s really about informal events that are welcoming to everyone – including those with very real challenges, such as unemployment. Campaigns like Get Online Week highlight these issues and, more importantly, encourage people to start their journey to a more positive future – to really grab hold of what they want.
To the learners and team at Longley 4G, thank you so much for having me today and for telling me your stories. Not only did I enjoy meeting you all and spending time in your company, but it also made me more determined than ever to make sure everyone has access to equal opportunities in life.
Your pictures have been flooding in. You’re all so creative, and I didn’t know there were so many things that can be made much simpler by using the internet. Here are some of my favourites from the past 24 hours:
I’m looking forward to seeing even more of your #EasierOnline pictures posted on social media. Don’t forget to post pictures of your events too using the #GOLW15 hashtag. I’m visiting two centres tomorrow – St Loyes and St Sitwell Centre – and Exeter Library to meet everyone there, including Ciara Eastell, whom I mentioned in my blog yesterday. I cannot wait!