A young mum from Doncaster is looking after her health online – and inspiring others to do the same – as one of the faces of this year’s national Get Online Week.
Rachel Littleford, 30, from Edlington near Doncaster, will be appearing on posters up and down the UK encouraging people to see how using technology could help them make life easier, cheaper, and yes – healthier.
Rachel didn’t use computers much at school, and although she could use Facebook on her phone, she knew she needed to get some more IT skills under her belt.
“You need computers for everything, nowadays,” says Rachel, a single mum to 10-year-old Lily. “I knew how to use the internet from my smartphone, but I haven’t had a computer at home since I was a kid. I certainly couldn’t have done any kind of job that needed you to use a computer, and these days, that’s pretty much every job isn’t it?”
It was actually the Jobcentre that referred Rachel on to the Edlington Hilltop Centre, a UK online centre in Edlington. They helped Rachel brush up on her digital skills.
Rachel continues: “I really enjoyed learning about computers, and the courses on the Learn My Way website were really easy to follow. Now I can do so much more – from searching to emailing, online shopping and banking, and even word processing and writing up my CV.”
Rachel’s become such a convert to technology she’s now a volunteer at the Edlington Hilltop Centre, helping others get to grips with the internet too, and hopes the experience will help her as a step into work in the future. She’s even invested in a tablet computer, which she and Lily use together.
“Lily is ten now,” says Rachel, “and that means she comes home from school with quite a bit of homework, most of which I haven’t got a clue about! Now we can sit down and Google the the answers together. It’s a real bonding experience, and we also play games and watch 1videos together.”
For Rachel, one of the main benefits of her new digital skills has been digital health – finding information and using online health services. She was born with Fibrous Dysplasia, a disease that causes growths or lesions in her bones – particularly her hip. The condition only became apparent in her late 20s, and she’s struggled to understand the diagnosis and manage her symptoms.
“Being told you’ve got something big and scary with a big, scary name, is something of a shock,” explains Rachel. “While it was nice to know there was a reason I’d been experiencing pain and limited movement, it was terrifying to be told I had something potentially so serious and so permanent. I worried about what would happen if I needed surgery, who would look after Lily, and how I’d cope living with the pain day-to-day. All of that stuff.
“After I got the diagnosis I wasn’t really in the right place to ask the right questions. But I could go away and look things up online. I found out lots more information, and lots of stories from people living with the same condition. That really helped me.
“I had no idea there was so much information out there, and now I feel more informed, more in control and less frightened. I’ve found out about tactics I can use if I’m having a really bad day, drug options to manage the pain, and exercises which can help too.
“Now when I go back to the hospital I can prepare all the questions and ask, ‘What about this?’ ‘What about that?’ ‘Can we try the other?’ I’m a lot more involved. I’m still at the GP every few weeks trying to get my medication right, but now I can book appointments online it’s a lot easier to fit things in around my volunteering and around Lily’s school hours. I can order my repeat prescriptions online, too.
“It’s more important than ever for me to look after myself and keep myself as fit and mobile as possible. Lily and me like to look up healthy recipes. She used to be terrible at eating her vegetables but she’s much better now she can pick the meals and help to cook them, and arrange them in funny faces on the plates!
“Getting online really is helping us stay healthy, and helping us in so many other ways too. I’m really excited to be a Get Online Week model because I think it’s so important for people to be able to take advantage of all the benefits being online can bring. And Get Online Week is a great excuse to give it a go! I’d say to anybody to get along to a UK online centre like Edlington Hilltop and get a helping hand to get online.”
A Doncaster man’s journey through the ‘wilderness’ of unemployment back to full time work, is set to inspire others to brush up their digital skills and their CVs for Get Online Week.
Rob Smedley, 40, from Edlington, is one of the models for this year’s national Get Online Week campaign, which aims to encourage the 12.6 million Brits without basic digital skills to get along to local events and see how the internet could help them save, connect, play – and work.
“If you want a job these days,” explains Rob, “you’ve got to be online. It doesn’t matter if you’re gardening, labouring, in an office or in a factory, you need some basic digital skills to search for a job, and probably to do it, too. Everything’s got an online ordering system, or reporting mechanisms, or something that needs to be done on a computer. And the Jobcentre is all digitised nowadays, too.”
Rob had been out of work for three long years when the Jobcentre referred him to the Edlington Hilltop Centre – a local UK online centre. “I call them the wilderness years,” explains Rob. “Because that’s what it felt like. I was pretty much at rock bottom. I’d applied for literally thousands of jobs, and heard back from less than 20. I’d done a couple of interviews, but didn’t get the jobs. I just wanted to work. My confidence was at an all time low, and I was doubting everything about myself.
“I did have some computer skills, and a CV, but they obviously weren’t doing the job for me. It literally saps your energy and lays you low. I didn’t know if I was doing the right things anymore, or looking in the right places.
“When I first walked through the door, I didn’t think anything was going to be any different – I thought I’d just be going through the motions, doing the same thing, somewhere different. But it wasn’t like that. They sat down with me, one-to-one, they listened, and they helped me.
“With their advice and guidance I dusted off and updated my old CV, brushed up on my rusty computer skills and internet etiquette, and did some mock interviews. And gradually my confidence started to grow again as I got up to speed. It was massive. Exactly what I needed, and a real turning point in my life.”
As Rob’s personality started to come out, he started to help others around him. That turned into more official volunteering at the centre, and eventually into a work placement. When a job to manage the centre’s 68 volunteers came up, Rob went for it, and got it.
“I can’t tell you what a good feeling it was to finally get a job,” says Rob, “and to get a job I really, really wanted. Now I get to do for others what the team at the Edlington Hilltop Centre did for me. This place built me back up from nothing, taught me new skills, and most importantly helped me to believe in myself again. And that’s often the most important step.
“We get people who come in here who’s skills are out of date – just like mine were – and people who literally don’t know how to turn a computer on, and don’t think they can learn. But because I’ve been there and I know they can – they just have to believe it too. Helping them to gain those new skills, offering people the opportunity to volunteer for community work and build their sense of worth and pride, that’s invaluable. And it’s also extremely rewarding.
“I’m really proud to be one of the poster people for Get Online Week, because I know how important digital skills are, and how important it is to have a helping hand when you need it. There are places like the Edlington Hilltop Centre up and down the country that can help people get to grips with computers and the internet, and there’s going to be hundreds of introductory events during Get Online Week. It’s a great opportunity to go in and see what you could learn, and how they could help you, too.”
You May have nOticed our current teaser campaign which is running across sociaL mEdia platfoRms at the moment wIth the haShtag #ItsNearlyTime. We cAn’t reveal much at the moment But we are very excited tO say that it will be the laUnch of a very special projecT which will benefiT the whOle of the community of Edlington And hopefully in the futuRe the whole of the boRough. Look for hidden clues In the pictures and wait for the big reVeal vEry soon.
It’s been a little while since our last update, but we have lots of fantastic news to pass on. We had a very busy summer indeed with everyone focusing on preparing to deliver our funded projects that we have been successful in receiving grants for this year totalling almost £60,000.
We will be delivering 3 exciting new projects across the South West of Doncaster, delivering initiatives for the DMBC Collaboratives. This will be across all of the Nursery and Childminder Services, Primary and Secondary Schools, Children’s Centre’s and Youth Clubs impacting on the wellbeing of over 2500 children and their families, check back soon for more details.
We will also be delivering Work Club and Careers Advice Services to 150 local residents, 40 Qualifications in a host of subjects and 1-2-1 support with Job Searching thanks to a generous grant from the Coalfields Regeneration Trust.
We also received a grant from DMBC to enable us to build a dedicated disabled entrance to the Keepmoat Community Allotment and Sensory Garden here at the Hilltop Centre. We would like to thank our local Councillors for supporting our bid.
We also continue to deliver our UK Online Centre services with the large grant received from Tinder Foundation as well as Learn My Way courses catering for almost every subject you can think of when using the internet, mobile devices and tablets.
We will also be one of the Co-op Community Fund Charities for this year so a great big Thank You to Co-op Petrol Station in Edlington. Watch this space for more details as they follow.
Community Volunteer Scheme
We still have a wide variety of roles within the Centre and across our projects for people to gain valuable work experience and qualifications.
If you have some spare time on your hands or maybe you’re between jobs, then you are very welcome to contact our Volunteer Support Officer Rob Smedley to talk about the options available and to see what would be right for you. Contact us on 01709 863268 for more information.
Helping Hands Charity Shop
The Helping Hands Charity Shop has been going from strength to strength. The Charity Shop is a training environment that will enable those manning the shop to gain a level 2 qualification in retail management, which helps to build the capacity and prospects of local people.
We are also holding a very special event until the end of October where every little shopper who brings along a dolly or teddy, will be entitled to a free outfit. Just ask for Veronica and she will help get you sorted.
If you have any items that you can donate to the shop, this will be gratefully received and then be put to good use to help people right here in our community. We can accept clothes, shoes, toys, books, towels, bedding, children’s clothes, brick a brak, ornaments, and cutlery in fact almost all household items, except large items of furniture or underwear.
Cash Bingo Sessions
Cash Bingo takes place every Tuesday evening at 6pm for a 6:30pm start. Tickets are priced at £8 for 12 games of 6, £6 for 12 games of 4 or £4 for 12 games of 2.
We also have a bonus flyer game where you can win big prize money for calling before the bonus number.
Stop Smoking Sessions
Come along any Tuesday evening between 5pm and 7pm to see our very own stop smoking team. You will receive FREE nicotine replacement products to help you quit and all the support you need to stay smoke free. No appointment is necessary.
Register now for Customer Services, Health & Safety, Emergency First Aid, Pre-Tenancy, Horticulture, Certificate in Teaching and Learning, Food Hygiene, Maths, English, ICT and Child Care Qualifications, which are coming up after September. Places are going fast and are limited to 10 per group. Call 01709 863268 now to secure your place.
Gamers Club – X-Box and Playstation
If you are a dedicated gamer and would like to join in with our new club, playing retro games on both consoles then please contact us on 01709 863268 and ask for Ben Bonser.
Community Lifeline/Befriending Scheme
Did you know that 1 in 3 senior citizens around our community are socially isolated, often going weeks and months without spending time talking to someone else? To help support these people we now have a small team of volunteers who man the community lifeline and befriending service. We make calls either daily or weekly to people in the community, who simply need to hear a friendly voice to talk about their day and enjoy talking to someone who cares.
We are very pleased to report that we now make regular contact with over 250 OAP’s and other Socially Isolated people right here in our community. We make sure that they are receiving all the help and support that they are entitled to. If you know someone who would benefit from a new “telephone friend” then this service is for them. Just call 01709 863268 and speak to Amy who supervises this new service.
HMRC and DWP Benefits Advice Service
If you need help, advice or support with applying for new benefits, tribunal for appeals or simply want to check your entitlement to benefits then we can help and support you. We have helped numerous local residents to claim benefits for the first time including PIP, Child and Working Tax Credits, Housing Benefits, DLA, ESA and Job Seekers.
Call Gary our Benefits Advice Worker on 01709 863268 for help and advice today.
Keepmoat Community Allotment and Sensory Garden
The Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones, The Mayor of Edlington Joan Briggs, Caroline Flint MP and Mark Knight CEO of Keepmoat Homes officially opened the Community Allotment and Sensory Garden on 18th June.
We welcomed the City of Sheffield Pipe Band along on the day, and they marched down Edlington Lane to the Hilltop Centre before performing set pieces with the Pipes and Drums and Scottish Country Dancers.
We are also very pleased to report that Keepmoat Homes have been shortlisted for 2 high profile construction industry awards for Community Engagement and Training Provider of the Year, both of which are based on the partnership developed by Keepmoat Homes and The Edlington Hilltop Centre.
The Community Hub Partnership has so far delivered over £650,000 of social return of investment which is a fantastic achievement from a small investment of £8000. That’s £81 return per £1 invested for our very own community.
If you have a few hours to spare to help out on the allotment, get in touch with Leigh Calladine on 01709 863268.
Kids Computer Club
Every Tuesday after school between 3:15pm and 5pm we hold our Kids Club with computer games that have an educational aim and lots of other activities like face painting, arts & crafts and other fun activities. The day will change from 27th September.
All for £1.50 with a packet of sweets and carton of pop under the supervision of fully trained and DBS checked volunteers.
Community Health Scheme and the Martinwells Patient Participation Group
Our Community Health Champions have been helping local residents who are patients at the Edlington GP Practice and the Nayar GP Practice to register their details online with https://patient.emisaccess.co.uk/Register this month and recording their feedback about the care being provided by the GP and Dental Surgeries on iWantGreatCare.
FLU Jabs:It’s that time of year again and we would encourage you to get booked in early to avoid the winter rush. Just Call Dr Nayar’s Surgery on 01709 444044 or Edlington Practice on 01709 444004.
Missed Appointments: We are very pleased to report that the number of missed appointments has dropped for the past 2 months and the Practice Managers, Doctors and GP Staff would all like to thank patients for their effort in keeping appointments and for calling to cancel. Don’t forget to give at least 48 hours’ notice if you can.
Social Prescribing: Working with a range of third sector organisations all our patients can be given onward referrals for free services. Get in touch in Surgery or call 01709 863268 to access these free services.
Become a Member of our Panel: Pick up a membership form from your practice or the Hilltop Centre today.
Contact Your Panel: Please feel free to contact Robert Reid (Chair), Pam Chambers (Vice Chair) or Leigh Calladine (Secretary) on 01709 863268 to discuss the panel or your experiences at the practices.
Activities, Groups and Classes
New Activity: Water Colour Art Class every Tuesday Evening between 7pm and 9pm, just £3 per session. Oil Painting Art Classevery Friday between 1pm and 3pm, Just £3 per session. Kids Clubwill change days from Monday to Tuesday from 27th September.
Joy’s Therapysessions run every Monday morning in room 3. Treat yourself to a wonderful Crystal Healing session. £20 Reiki treatment for help with those aches and pains £20 Or £30 for both. Hopi ear candling with lymphatic drainage £20 Contact Joy on 07704638493 to get booked in.