A community centre in Huddersfield is really thriving as reporter KATIE EARLAM found out.
A COMMUNITY centre has helped hundreds of people into employment – through its computer classes.
Staff at Crosland Moor Community Centre are working hard to improve people’s online abilities and “empower” them.
Director of the centre Malvern Goodall said: “We have some fantastic staff here who are teaching people new things everyday.
“But it is not just about gaining new computer skills, people leave here with improved confidence and social skills.
“The classes are friendly, intimate and they are free for many people.
“We also have many older people who just want to learn how to get online, send an email or explore the web.
“The class helps them get out more, meet people, connect with the rest of the world and they really enjoy playing around on a computer.
“Our tutors are very good too, two members of staff are training for a PGCE while another is in the middle of a research degree at Huddersfield University.
“Our volunteer Peter Begent was an ex-student and wanted to give something back so now acts as a mentor to other learners – he comes all the way from High Flatts to be here.”
Clr Molly Walton is a director of the centre, in Park Road West, alongside Malvern.
Tutor Sadaf Alam said: “The classes are aimed to try and give people the freedom to apply for future courses and get into employment
“We work in partnership with the Thornton Lodge Action Group, ESOL and the Workers’ Education Association, to support learners with numeracy and literacy also.
“We put people in touch with a learning mentor who then works with organisations like Connexions.
“Anyone can come along and get involved – they just need to visit the centre and put their names down.
“We have such a mix of people, different races, religions and within this particular class, we have found that people speak so many languages.
“The dream is to one day increase the number of people we can teach, increase the size of our premises as we are limited to the amount of people we can take on. “But funding is a huge struggle and it is only due to our volunteers’ help that the centre is running.
The centre runs four different two-hour classes per week including Beginners PC, You Chose IT, Computer Confidence and Introduction to the Internet.
Since the courses have been running, hundreds have gained IT skills which have helped them get new jobs.
Sarbjid Sanghera, 41, of Crosland Moor, worked as a fork-lift truck driver in Dewsbury for 10 years but decided to embark on a new career.
He said: “I had no computer skills and when I applied for jobs I soon found that this was a problem – everybody asked about IT.
“I had no idea how to use a computer and one of my friends told me about this course.
“I was really nervous when I first came to the class especially as my English wasn’t very good.
“But I shouldn’t have been, I really like it here and I feel comfortable working with everybody.
“I feel more confident speaking English and I feel much happier applying for jobs with the computer skills I have gained.”
Joyce Webdale, 78, of Crosland Moor, felt as though her age was a stumbling block in getting to grips with technology.
She said: “My grandson had called me and told me that I needed to get online and send emails because that is how people keep in touch these days.
“I thought I was definitely too old to begin to understand the computers.
“But because of the help I have had here, I have now bought my own computer and I have also sent my son an email.
“I’m working on Microsoft Word at the moment putting together a piece about crocheting.
“I’m thrilled with the tutors because I will be able to send my grandson an email. This has been truly wonderful.”