Our stories

Disadvantaged in Leeds developing Skills for Tomorrow

A Leeds charity is helping disadvantaged people to improve their prospects by growing their digital skills thanks to funding through BT’s Skills for Tomorrow programme.

By annaosbourne · 10/11/2020

Chapeltown & Harehills Learning Project is a charity organisation that has been offering a variety of training and employment preparation programmes for 12 years. Their goal is to help people reach their true potential through a wide range of training opportunities and individualised support.

Many of the adult learners that are supported by the charity have barriers to learning. They may have had negative learning experiences in the past or left learning prematurely, so need additional help in areas such as literacy, numeracy and IT. Their learners often also need support with life skills, confidence building, learning preparation and require additional emotional care.

In October 2019, they were awarded funding from the BT Skills for Tomorrow programme to deliver digital skills training. Many of the individuals they support are computer illiterate, and have a fear of technology. The new funding meant each beneficiary was able to start their learning at a level appropriate for their existing level of skills and progress gradually throughout their studies.

May Arthurton, Project Manager at Chapeltown and Harehills, tell us: “The BT programme has helped us reach a wider majority of our beneficiaries who come from Chapeltown and Harehills which are multicultural areas in Leeds. All the learners are adults, as we run the project as a further education establishment, teaching marginalised, disadvantaged learners aged 18–65+. Many of the learners are on a low income, with a wide majority unemployed on benefits, and many with a physical or learning disability, and low digital skills.”

The programme had a particular impact on many adult learners over the age of 40. With at least some digital skills now mandatory in the vast majority of jobs, it’s particularly important for this demographic to have access to the support they need to gain and develop their confidence with technology.

May tells us about the impact the funding has had on everyone at the charity: “The joy and satisfaction of seeing students learn how to use a computer, browse the internet and work towards doing further online activities has given the tutors and I great satisfaction. And for the students, learning new digital skills and becoming so much competent when using a computer is so rewarding for all of them.”

Skills for Tomorrow is a programme from BT, supported by Good Things Foundation. Find out more about the programme.