BT launches Digital Skills initiative to help the homeless


BT has launched a new pilot initiative to provide digital skills training for up to 25 residents of Choice Housing schemes in Belfast.

The innovative ‘Get Connected’ programme is a 12-week digital training course to be held at the Skainos Centre in Belfast with the aim of helping to build digital confidence among those taking part, improve their employability and social mobility, and develop the skills they need to engage in a technology led world.

Supporting Communities, an independent charitable organisation which champions tenant and community participation, is delivering the training alongside a team of BT volunteers, who will provide support to the participants throughout the scheme and for up to one year afterwards.

The training programme will cover a range of topics from email and basic typing through to managing finances, preparing CVs as well as tutorials on how to use the internet to access public services online.

Mairead Meyer, Managing Director of NI Networks at BT, said:

“At BT, we have a long-term commitment to help build a culture of tech literacy and to use the power of communications to make a better world. As more essential parts of everyday life take place online, digital skills are now a necessity and without training many people are at risk of being left behind, unable to actively engage online, find employment or access other support services.

“We’re delighted to launch this initiative working with Choice Housing and Supporting Communities to deliver invaluable skills training and give real and lasting benefits to those in our community who need additional support.”

Michael McDonnell, Group Chief Executive of Choice Housing said:

“We know that some of our service users can feel overwhelmed by digital technologies and it is important that they build the confidence and skills to overcome that challenge. Technology should be about making life easier and giving people the means to better connect with services and advice online.

“This kind of digital inclusion initiative can make a real difference to our tenants’ lives and we’re thrilled that BT has stepped forward with the funding to enable Supporting Communities to deliver the training, meaning that even those with no experience of computers can quickly get to grips with digital life and its advantages.”

Colm McDaid, Chief Executive of Supporting Communities, commented:

“Supporting Communities is delighted to be delivering the Get Connected digital project. BT’s collaboration with Choice Housing and ourselves is a win win for everyone.  Working with four different schemes will undoubtedly bring together a unique and innovative digital learning experience for those who use the service and I look forward to the impact that the project will have.”

Speaking about the programme, David Craig, a Hosford House resident, said: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to take part in this digital skills training course. It is a chance for me to try something new and to take on a new challenge and hopefully, through the programme, I will be able to meet new people. I’m really looking forward to getting started!”

Choice Housing is one of the largest independent housing associations in Northern Ireland, providing high quality homes, care, and support services to meet the diverse needs of a wide range of customers including; older people, families, mature singles, and people with complex needs.

Supporting Communities in an independent charitable organisation which champions tenant and community participation by developing groups, supporting active citizenship, and building cohesive communities.

Hosford House is the homeless service of East Belfast Mission.