Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project

"Keeping our software up-to-date is extremely hard. I would certainly recommend that other charities investigate the scheme — it’s a great resource, and the more people that use it, the better.”

— Peter Sutcliffe, development worker

IT Training: a Vital Step on the Ladder

The Brighton Unemployed Centre Families Project is a drop-in community centre providing a variety of services primarily aimed at unemployed, unwaged, or low-waged people. 

Peter Sutcliffe is a development worker at the charity. “We have a crèche and a playroom, we provide advice, advocacy, courses and activities — we try to do it under one roof. The Centre is a welcoming area — there’s a meal free of charge for those who can’t pay, free clothes, and free Internet,” he says. 

Peter is keen to stress the diverse nature of their service users. “We have a real mix of people. Forty percent of them are educated to degree level, whilst 40 percent have no qualifications at all. But these are people who have all fallen through the net — perhaps they’ve had problems with family, their job, they might have spent some time in prison, they might be homeless, they might have nothing,” he says. 

One key facility at the centre is the computer room — a network of eight machines equipped with software including the latest version of Microsoft Office, provided by CTX. In here, the charity offers IT training courses for free, or a token contribution for those who can afford to pay. 

“Even our well-qualified users are starting again at the bottom,” says Sutcliffe. “And that other 40 percent are learning the absolute basics. It’s amazing — there are jobs out there — porters, delivery drivers — and the only way that you can apply is online, with a CV and email, even though these skills are no requirement for the job.” 

Peter’s charity was also one of the lucky few recipients of a batch of Cisco’s Flip Video UltraHD cameras, an end-of-line clearance that was briefly available via CTX at the beginning of the year. The charity’s aim is to distribute these amongst users and volunteers in order to put together a genuine and realistic "day in the life of" documentary of the centre and its people. Given the preconceived notions that many still have of "the unemployed" or "the homeless," the results will certainly be interesting — one suspects that these cameras have found a very worthy destination.