Public Services

I love people. I’m what’s known as a people person. Hence why I do my job. I also love learning and helping people to learn. You could say: “I’m in the right job”.

My job is community training officer, but what an average day look like? Well, I help run Starting Point’s multiple digital skills sessions throughout Stockport. This involves prepping the weekly training guides, getting to the venue, and setting up the training room and then running the actual training session, all whilst offering a non-threatening and informal learning environment. They happen across the borough at different times of different days, but we do have a theme each week.

This week it was Public Services and more specifically, www.stockport.gov.uk. This website, managed by Stockport Council, is a one-stop shop for everything local authority and allows people to report issues ranging from potholes on their road to broken streetlights. On the surface this seems slightly mundane, surely, the weird and wonderful internet has more to offer to learners?

As society and communities move online, there is an outcry that it may leave people isolated and unable to access public services. I believe that tools can have the opposite impact and www.stockport.gov.uk helps prove that digital tools can expand people’s worlds. There is space for digital tools to enable people to have better access to their local authority and all its services, as well as a myriad of other websites.

 

We all know we are six websites away from cat videos on YouTube.  As people in communities get older and their world begins to shrink geographically, due to poor mental and/or physical health, being able to reach out to family and friends; in this case their local council, allows them to feel a sense of independence and involvement as they learn how a digital tool can help them report and shape their community for the better. No, it’s not mining bitcoin or playing Fortnite with all your friends – can you even do that on a PC? It’s not designing code or apps to revolutionise the way we use our heating system at home and it might seem mundane to some that you can find out about planning permissions for old banks in Woodley, the naming of a new square in the town centre (Suffragette Square – look it up!) or on what day your blue bin is collected – Monday 30th April is the next collection in Woodley. For some people, it’s the starting point in a journey to realising that digital is an enabler and that websites like www.stockport.gov.uk are enabling people to shape the offline world, online.

We produce an easy to follow digital tools handout every week. If you would like to receive the weekly update do not hesitate to get in contact with me at ryan@startpoint.org.uk.

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