Community Focus uses art to get people connected
Community Focus is a Barnet-based charity. They have helped people learn new skills and build confidence online in just 12 weeks by supporting residents in following their interests.
Digital skills course
The goal for many was internet independence, as well as how to stay safe online. This includes how to:
- spot and deal with internet scams
- choose and protect passwords
- shop safely online
Community Focus delivered classes for 33 Barnet residents that taught basic digital skills through art. Residents were aged 55 years and older and in some cases had mental health problems.
The programme was delivered with £10,000 funding from the Barnet Community Innovation Fund by the Barnet Integrated Care Partnership.
For some it was the first time they had used a computer and the chance to be creative helped them think about technology in a completely different way.
Apps like Sumo and websites like jacksonpollock.org could turn a mouse into a paint brush.
Take a look at jacksonpollock.org
Outcome of the programme
All the residents that took part responded to the chance to be creative online.
Learners used Google to search for their favourite artists and added them to moodboards to build up a visual collection of inspiring art works. This helped the group pick up useful skills like copy and paste, and download.
It sparked interest in other areas such as online shopping and setting up email.
Gabrielle Cooper, Tutor at Community Focus in Friary House
"Many residents had a connected device at home (such as a phone or tablet), but they hadn't used a mouse before so getting them used to creating art in this way was challenging.
One learner came into the session crying, her energy company had gone bankrupt and she didn't know where to get information or help. It can be daunting to go home and open your iPad and find everything is in a different place.
I made YouTube videos with directions for using the tools on Android and Apple so learners cold follow at home and explore in their own time."
Face-to-face sessions went on to become problem solving forums. As weeks went on, learners would answer each other's questions, sharing tips and tricks.
Gabrielle went on to explain:
"Sessions became a social gathering, getting people out of the house, meeting new people, reduced social isolation and feelings of being shut out from the digital world.
They all had the passion to learn and embraced the challenge and left everyone asking for more!"
How to get involved
Community Focus marked Get Online Week 2021 (18 to 24 October 2021) by releasing their art class videos for anyone to watch and try out.
Check out the art class videos on YouTube
Build your digital skills and confidence to get online through the activities delivered by Barnet BOOST, libraries and community groups across the borough.
Barnet Get Online Network website