Briardale community centre presses the button on computer suite upgrade with support from The Banks Group

August 12, 2015 | Brenkley News

Users of a Northumberland community centre are staying at the cutting edge of technology after a four-figure grant from a regional employer paid for a major upgrade to its aging computer suite.

The Briardale Community Centre in Blyth is the hub for a huge range of community services, and aims to support training, employment and self-improvement opportunities provided for local people by local people.

The Centre’s managers had been looking for a way to find the funds required to upgrade the ten year-old computers that it makes available free of charge to the community for everything from submitting job applications and preparing CVs through to improving general IT skills and learning how to shop online.

And now, thanks to a £5,000 grant from The Banks Group, via its Banks Community Fund, seven new touchscreen computers and a printer have been installed in the Centre’s computer suite.

An IT tutor is now working onto site twice a week to help users successfully complete the different types of computer work they’re looking to do, and the Centre’s management team hopes the new equipment will help to further increase the numbers of people using the building, as well as increasing the revenue they generate to cover its running costs.

Founded 15 years ago, Briardale Community Centre was the first purpose-built building of its type in the area, and its work, which focuses primarily on Cowpen and Kitty Brewster, is supported by a large team of local volunteers.

Events and services based at Briardale range from pre-school and young people’s groups, health promotion schemes and catering provision through to the local food bank, an organic produce-growing scheme and a woodshed project through which wooden planters and birdboxes are being built by local young people on community payback or probation schemes.

It also works with local employability services to offer work placements in catering, cleaning, care provision, office skills and gardening to young people in the area.

Jean Bell, manager at Briardale Community Centre, says: “We’ve had wireless Internet available right through the Centre for some time now, but we’ve been very conscious for a long while that we also needed to bring our computers up to date if our users were going to be able to get everything they could out of them.

“As we didn’t have the funds available to carry out this work, we were planning to make do and mend for as long as possible, and the funding we’ve had from The Banks Group has already made a huge difference to what we’re able to offer.

“Different people have different computing needs, from a young user looking to get a CV or job application together to an older person who might not have had much chance to learn about computers and wants to do their grocery shopping online, and having our tutor on site twice a week means everyone can get the help they need to do what they want to do.

“People coming into the Centre are amazed at how up-to-date our computer suite now is, and the new technology we’ve installed is certain to help us increase the number of local people coming in to use what we’ve got to offer.”

Jeannie Kielty, development relations coordinator at The Banks Group, adds: “Briardale holds a very special place in the local community, and we’re especially pleased that the funding we’ve provided will not only enhance the facilities that it can offer, but will also help many local people learn new skills, find new opportunities and improve their futures.”

The Banks Community Fund provides grants for community groups and voluntary organisations in the vicinity of both operational and proposed Banks Group projects.  Anyone interested in applying for funding should contact James Eaglesham at the Banks Community Fund on 0191 378 6342.

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