A South East Northumberland charity is helping local people get their digital skills up to date with the help of a four-figure grant from regional property, renewable energy and minerals company The Banks Group.

Blyth Resource & Initiative Centre (BRIC) provides a wide range of training courses and employability services to people living in Blyth and its surrounding communities with the aim of helping them gain the skills and knowledge needed to enter the world of work.

Based at the Blyth Community Enterprise Centre on Ridley Street, BRIC offers a range of digital skills development courses and has more than 20 years’ experience in providing IT support for computer users of all ages and skill levels.

The charity has now used a £2,158 grant from the Banks Community Fund to replace its suite of old, slow computers with six new desktop PCs which will enable users to complete tasks and find the information they need much more quickly.

The computers are also used for the charity’s other online activities, including accredited functional skills courses that enables local people to boost their employability and general life skills by enhancing their maths and English knowledge.

The charity, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, also offers support services which help people overcome any barriers to employment, education or training that they’re facing.

The new computers in use at the Blyth Resource & Initiative Centre

“Being able to use Banks’ generous grant to bring our technology up to date has taken a real weight off our minds.”

CEO Sharron Fawcett says: “Our aim is to upskill local people who don’t have any qualifications, which is around one third of Blyth’s population, so that they have a better chance of developing the skills they need to catch an employer’s eye and achieve their potential.

“The computers we’ve had up to now have been essential for delivering our various different courses, but they’ve been gradually getting slower and slower, and it’s been taking users twice as long to complete tasks as it should do simply because of their processing speed, which can be really discouraging.

“We’ve been concerned that, if the computers stopped working, we’d be unable to carry on running our courses, so being able to use Banks’ generous grant to bring our technology up to date has taken a real weight off our minds.

“The new computers have really speeded everything up for both our centre users and our expert course leaders, and they will make everyone’s training and learning goals much more achievable than they otherwise would have been.”

Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at the Banks Group, adds: “The BRIC team makes a practical difference to the prospects of local people in so many different ways, and is helping bring about real improvements to the quality of their life opportunities.

“We’ve supported dozens of brilliant charities and community organisations in this part of the world where we have had many property developments over the years, and we’re very pleased to be able to add another one to the list.”