HUNDREDS of residents have been getting hooked up to a new online centre over the past five months.
The £54,000 South Shields Community Hub opened in John Williamson Street last October, to provide internet access for people in the Tyne Dock area.
Since then, residents have been taking advantage of the centre’s facilities for job applications, training programmes, and other online services, including shopping.
Karen Hutchinson, project manager at the community hub, said: “The hub is really taking off now.
“We have had some fantastic feedback from residents and people in the local community, and there are more and more people coming in to use the computers.
“People have been very positive, and said that they feel very comfortable using the hub.
“We are really keen that as many people as possible make the most of the opportunity to get connected and learn more about how using the internet can benefit them in their everyday lives, from saving money online to help finding a job.”
Ms Hutchinson said more training courses will be available soon, while an online cookery course for older people, inspired by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food project, is already under way.
She added: “Other organisations are contacting us to use the space to run courses, and we have a class for older people and a Ministry of Food cooking class also taking place.”
The centre was created by housing association Affinity Sutton after research revealed that only a third of Tyne Dock residents who rent the association’s homes have access to the web.
Since it opened, 80 local people have been trained as volunteer ‘digital champions’ to provide training to new internet users.
The digital champions will attend a special presentation at South Shields Town Hall later this month.
They will be presented with certificates by South Tyneside’s Deputy Mayor, Coun Eileen Leask, and Deputy Mayoress, Coun Olive Punchion, who opened the community hub last October.
The new centre is part of Affinity Sutton’s national network of community hubs, providing internet access for residents.