Published On: 21st November 2023

Access Foundation boosts computer confidence in Manchester’s disadvantaged communities

More than 2,000 people from Greater Manchester’s most disadvantaged communities have benefitted from Mustard Tree's digital skills programme, thanks to two grants totalling £89,465 from The Access Foundation.

In the last year, the project has provided digital equipment, software, support and skills training to people who have become digitally excluded and unable to access online services due to poverty or homelessness.

Users of Mustard Tree’s services often face social isolation, are on low or no incomes or are struggling with debt. The charity offers them many programmes of support to improve their mental and economic well-being, including the six-week Computer Confidence training funded by the grant.

The sessions have helped 150 people learn basic IT skills, tools to budget and access online banking, submit job applications and create CVs or to access government and NHS services.

Jack Barton, communications and digital manager at Mustard Tree said:

“Technology, while enabling for so many, can also create barriers, and our digital programme helps to break down these barriers.

“We have seen a huge improvement in the abilities of those who have taken part in the course, and they have been genuinely surprised at what they had achieved.

“Having a structured routine by attending the Computer Confidence sessions also allows participants to build self-efficacy with a positive step towards independence, and we have noticed a marked increase in confidence in each individual.

“We are incredibly grateful to The Access Foundation for their continued support of our training programme. It plays a pivotal role in helping the charity improve every participant’s economic wellbeing and confidence.”

The Access Foundation was set up by business software provider, The Access Group, in 2021 to help tackle the UK’s digital divide and provide IT equipment and internet access to the country’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities.

Piers McLeish, Trustee of The Access Foundation commented:

“We are thrilled to see the great work that has been done in Greater Manchester. It’s heartening to witness how the support has made a real and meaningful difference to people’s lives.

“For many of us it’s easy to reach for a laptop or smartphone to complete the simplest daily tasks, but for large numbers of our population the internet is simply not accessible and this year the cost-of-living crisis has compounded the issue.

“By giving people the means to access the online world they can better take control of their own lives and help themselves - which is exactly what is happening through Mustard Tree.”