TalkTalk is proud to support Good Things Foundation, which shares our ambition for a world where everyone benefits from digital. Good Things Foundation brings together thousands of community partners to create the UK online centres network, a place where people across the UK can gain the support and skills they need to change their lives and overcome social challenges.

Our Corporate Social Responsibility Lead, Lauren Young, recently visited Twickenham Library, where Mercy Foundation Centre was running its weekly drop-in session.

“Libraries are such peaceful places, but up on the second floor of Twickenham Library, Mercy Foundation Centre’s room was a hive of activity. With six computers available, all the stations were filled throughout the session and at times there was even a queue. All the learners are supported by volunteers and complete online courses that help them develop skills such as learning to touch type, sending and receiving emails, and staying safe online.

One learner, who was previously a carer, explained that digital skills were vital to finding her next job – you don’t look in the papers for jobs anymore, it’s all moved online. Having worked through a learning module on security, we talked about the importance of staying safe online, knowing how to protect yourself and working out which websites you can trust. She explained how to start with it was all rather daunting, even just knowing how to turn a computer on and worrying that you might break it by pressing the wrong button. However it was clear to see that after just three weeks, her confidence has grown, she’s empowered to think big and is excited by what her next job might be.

There was a real sense of community in the room too – everyone received a warm, friendly welcome and was encouraged to ask questions or let us know whenever they needed help. Victoria Rodney who runs Mercy Foundation Centre, is quite simply incredible. Victoria re-mortgaged her house, to make this and their centre in Clapham Junction possible. She explained how the centres reach out to so many different people, some travelling quite some distance to attend. Often a lack of digital skills is associated with older people, but learners attending were both young and old. Each had their own story too, including homelessness, being an ex-offender, leaving school early or recovering from substance abuse, to name but a few.

As part of my visit, I presented two learners with their City and Guilds’ Online Basics certificates. They had successfully completed the course and explained that it had helped build up their confidence and enabled them to add a new qualification to their CVs, which the centre had also helped them to update. It was a big day for one of the learners too, as after the session, she was off to complete her first afternoon working in one of the local charity shops.

There are still over 12 million people in the UK who don’t have basic digital skills. Every day we think nothing of sending a quick email or doing the weekly shop online, but my visit reminded me that we shouldn’t take digital skills for granted. I’m also proud to work for a company that sees the importance of giving something back to the communities it works in. All TalkTalk employees can take up to two days volunteering leave, and hundreds have become Digital Champions supporting centres like Victoria’s.

You can see the difference your support has, passing on those skills, in just a couple of hours, and so I’m looking forward to returning soon.”

Lauren Young, CSR Lead, Corporate Affairs & Regulation