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Category: Blogger's Corner, Employer Focus, technology, courses, internet
Burnage tenant Donna Flannagan, 57, was working as a caterer in South Manchester when she discovered that she had several tumours sitting on her brain. Fortunately Donna recovered, but the effects of the tumours set her back and left her suffering with memory and coordination problems. ‘I was laid off from work. I used to work on my feet but I can’t go back because of this condition. I’m weak on one side; it’s like a stroke.’
Donna’s confidence was knocked when she found it had become difficult for her to learn new things. ‘It’s so frustrating when I don’t pick things up quickly now’. But, she insists, ‘I’m fighter.’
When her Housing Officer told her about the various courses that Southway offered, the Internet Savvy course stood out as a way of both getting online and getting back into employment. ‘I wanted to learn, and I was thinking of working as something else so thought maybe a sit down job, at a computer. And computers nowadays are everything’
‘Before the class I knew nothing. Maybe how to switch on a computer.’ So signing up in the first place was a huge step. Donna decided to go along to the first class with her neighbour for support.
She had reservations before the first class. ‘The hardest thing was walking up to the door for the first time and putting your foot in there. But after that, it was great. And now I think if I hadn’t gone in– where would I be?’
Now at Week 12 of the course, Donna’s achievements have been phenomenal - she was the first to complete all of the learnmyway modules and is ready to take the final exam. She credits the teaching of the course to how far she has come.
‘In general it’s been hard but some parts have been easy. We’re all at different levels so people are working differently, and we’ve all got different reasons for being there - some people to send emails, some for jobs, and other things. It means we can help each other out. And Niki and Jed are really helpful too because they take a lot of questions. They encourage them.’
She was pleased to be able to measure her own development throughout the course. ‘My memory was a problem at first; the first time I came here I was asking to be shown things 8-9 times. And then I started doing a countdown of every time I had to ask about something. It was less one week, and then I realised, Oh! I’ve only asked once today! So for me, that’s an achievement. That’s how I realised I was changing too.’
By practising the techniques of the course at home between classes, Donna was able to improve her IT skills alongside her memory. Having bought a laptop partly funded by the course, and a Sky Broadband deal that was recommended to her during Week 3, she now uses the internet at home at her leisure.
‘I like YouTube… watching videos and listening to old songs. And I do a bit of shopping. I’ve done one online food shop with my son at my side, checking. There were a few hiccups the first time, when I didn’t look at the amounts I was ordering!’. She also uses her kindle ‘to catch up with family I haven’t seen in more than 20 years’.
When this course ends, Donna is keen to join another Southway course, having developed a real taste for learning. And as for Internet Savvy: ‘I would tell anyone to give it a go. And I’ll be happy if just one person with disabilities like me takes up the course after reading this.’
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