By Alix - Booth Centre Support Worker
The Booth Centre approach is not something you can easily outline on paper, it’s a way of working that has to be at the core of everything that you do. It’s a central ethos that everything else works from.
82% of people in the UK go online every day , so much of our daily life requires internet access that for many of us a few days without it would seriously affect our ability to work, communicate, and be entertained. This is the case for everyone. Looking for work, applying for jobs and trying to secure accommodation all require access to the internet but as is often the case those most in need are excluded. Digital exclusion can present significant and life altering consequences. For example looking for employment and private rented accommodation without internet access can force people to look in unconventional places which makes them vulnerable to illegal work and unsafe living conditions. Another big factor is Universal Credit, people need to write on their online journal regularly in order to keep receiving benefits. Without it they may be sanctioned which could lead to losing their accommodation. Being able to connect to family and friends, watch a film or listen to music has a huge impact on a person’s wellbeing. Connecting to the outside world helps us feel included and part of a community. And everyone deserves this.
Every month we have an IT Committee where we discuss IT in the centre and across the city. Working together we identified the key digital needs that weren’t being met and have sought to address them. Our amazing peer mentors recognise the difficulties people face and are pivotal in driving forward our digital programme. Over the past year we have been redesigning how we use technology in the centre, this is nearly completed and we can’t wait! We’re introducing tablets to increase the ways people can access the internet and we’ve put in additional computers so that more people can use our Internet Café, Job Club and online training.
The journey that our peer mentors and supported volunteers go on is incredible. Having the ability to help another person out of a difficult time or even just be given trust and responsibility is an effective tool for empowerment. In a recent interview peer mentor Robyn said that ‘co-production comes from the heart’ it’s about understanding and offering empathy not sympathy and that’s how we do things at the Booth Centre.