New Digital Help Centre officially opened in Skelmersdale
MORE than a hundred local people have already been helped to access vital benefits and other services via the internet in just ten weeks since the new Digital Help Centre opened in Skelmersdale, guests heard at the official launch on Wednesday, October 11.
The centre, run by Citizens Advice together with Macmillan Cancer Support, has also helped many to learn new IT skills – with 20 gaining qualifications so far – and there are already plans for more initiatives to help people in the near future.
It was officially opened by John Crompton, Chair of Citizens Advice Lancashire West, who explained to guests that more and more benefit and support functions now require internet access.
He said: “Millions of people lack basic digital skills such as the ability to switch a computer on, use a mouse, send an e-mail or find a web page. The skills deficit is all the more with the elderly.
“The inevitable result is that certain sections of our community can become digitally excluded. Examples would be applying for blue badges or Universal Credit, which will soon move from its pilot areas to a national roll out.
“We felt that there was a burning need to provide free at the point of use supported access service to the internet together with free digital educational courses.”
The Skelmersdale Digital Help Centre is also to be used in association with the National Carers Service to offer counselling sessions, it has hosted a session for Syrian refugee families in Skelmersdale, and plans are underway to work with West Lancashire Borough Council to help local people with Universal Credit Applications.
The Centre is next door to the Citizens Advice office in the town’s Concourse Centre, in a formerly empty unit kindly lent by William Hill and shared with Macmillan Cancer Support. The initiative has since been rolled out to Chorley and another centre for Fleetwood is planned.