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Minister for Skills and Science Visits Blaina Library

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Blaina Library Minister Visit Nov 16

Pictured left to right are Anthony Hughes Managing Director of Aneurin Leisure, Marc Davies Project Manager for Digital Communities Wales, Allison Roberts Senior Library Assistant, Julie James Minister for Skills and Science and Tracy Jones Library Services Manager

On Thursday 10th November the Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, visited Blaina Library to see how libraries in Blaenau Gwent help people access digital services and support volunteering opportunities.

The Minister was introduced to customers at the Workclub and heard about their experiences of getting on-line in the library.

The Work club provides vital community support for job-seekers needing digital help to access the Universal Jobmatch site, updating CVs and searching for jobs on-line.  A range of partner organisations also provide additional support for job seekers during the session, including Careers Wales and Communities First. 

Tracy Jones, Library Service Manager said; “The Welsh Government’s Digital Communities Wales (DCW) project provides vital support to staff and volunteers at Blaenau Gwent Libraries which enables our service to deliver high quality digital help and assistance to library users.  Staff and volunteers have benefited from training delivered from DCW, which has been tailored specifically to the needs of our service.  This has built confidence in our staff/volunteers and has equipped them with the relevant skills to further develop our digital offer to customers.  The learning materials produced by DCW provide a helpful, easy to understand resource regularly used with beginners, saving staff time and providing consistency for digital learning.  The service has recently signed the 'Digital Charter', this has given our service a quality assurance which is recognised by partners and other organisations.  This has helped raise the profile of our organisations, as being a key partner of the delivery of digital inclusion in Blaenau Gwent.”

Julie James, Minister for Skills and Science added: “Improving digital skills and connectivity in Wales is a key priority for this government and we are committed to working with others to ensure everyone has access to the internet and the skills and motivation to use it effectively.

“Basic digital skills are a vital part of our economy and everyday life, from staying in touch with family and friends, through accessing and sharing information and skills to buying and selling goods and services competitively. I am pleased that Aneurin Leisure Trust has signed up to the Digital Inclusion Charter and shown a real commitment to supporting people to tackle digital exclusion.”

David Gurl and Mike Thomas have volunteered at Blaina Library for the last two years, helping people attending the Work Club and assisting library users with a wide range of digital services, including taster sessions, setting up email and iPad support.  Their dedication to volunteering was recognised earlier this year when they both received awards   from the High Sheriff of Gwent, Andrew Tuggley, for “Volunteers who go Above and Beyond.”

Both Mike and David have overcome difficult personal circumstances to be able to volunteer in the Library and they both make invaluable contributions to the services offered to the local community.



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