Blyth Charity boosted by Superfast broadband

A charity in Blyth helping unemployed people get back to work is reaping the benefits since upgrading to superfast, fibre broadband.

Ronnie Campbell MP visits BRIC to find out how superfast, fibre broadband is supporting them to get unemployed people back to work

A charity in Blyth helping unemployed people get back to work is reaping the benefits since upgrading to superfast, fibre broadband.

The Blyth Resource and Initiative centre (BRIC), which supports hundreds of unemployed people each year to gain the digital skills vital in today’s job market, was the subject of a fact-finding visit by Blyth Valley MP Ronnie Campbell.

As well as teaching basic online activities such as sending emails and searching for jobs, the centre offers a range of vocational courses with the majority dependent on reliable internet access.

Cath George, centre manager at BRIC, which is situated on Quay Road, said fibre broadband had made a “huge difference” to the number of people who could be supported by the charity and allowed the centre to expand its range of courses.

“We work with a large number of people who are classed as furthest away from the job market. Some of those people have no, or very limited experience of the internet,” she said.

“This lack of digital skills is a massive issue. All unemployed people claiming Jobseekers Allowance are now required to use an online job search site, but with no digital skills even this is virtually impossible and that’s before they even try to apply for a job.

“At BRIC we provide IT related courses to teach people these vital skills and help them back to work. To do that effectively we need fast and reliable internet and now we have it.”

BRIC is just one of more than 17,500 businesses, organisations and households in Blyth, which can now place orders as a result of the iNorthumberland programme and BT’s own commercial roll-out of the fibre broadband technology - and many have already done so with thousands so far signing up to a fibre broadband service.

Ronnie Campbell joined Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council and representatives of iNorthumberland and BT at BRIC to see for himself the technology being put to great use in his constituency.

He said:“It is superb that the iNorthumberland programme is bringing super-fast fibre broadband to services such as these provided by BRIC.

“The team at BRIC do some great work in my constituency in helping people to get into education, training or back to work, and excellent IT is key to the support that they provide.

“Fibre broadband offers huge benefits to community service, to local residents and to businesses and will help our local economy to flourish and grow.”

Cath added: “For us having broadband access that is both fast and reliable is essential to the success of the online courses that we provide here at the centre.

“Before we upgraded to superfast broadband our connection could be slow and was often not fit for purpose, dropping out regularly throughout the day, which could be incredibly difficult especially when people were completing online assessments.

“Superfast broadband has made a huge difference to the number of people we can support and also expanded the range of courses we can offer. This is fantastic for us and for those people who desperately want to learn new skills and get back to work.”

Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council said:“The is another superb example of the benefits of the iNorthumberland programme and of bringing superfast broadband to communities right across the county.”

Fibre broadband enables multiple users in a home or business to access the internet, more quickly than ever before. The benefits of faster broadband speeds for businesses are considerable and include faster file and data transfers, better access to cloud computing services and software, more sophisticated web-based contact with customers and support for more flexible working.

The increased speeds are also of great value to families. Everyone in the family can do their own thing online, all at the same time, whether it’s downloading music in minutes or watching catch-up TV; streaming HD or 3D movies in a few minutes; or posting photos and videos to social networking sites in seconds. It will also improve access to new job opportunities, and make it easier to shop around for services.

Simon Roberson, BT’s North East regional partnership director, said: “Superfast broadband is transforming people’s lives and it is vital everyone has the knowledge and skills to reap the benefits.

“Organisations like BRIC are bridging the gap for people who have not had the opportunity to experience all the internet has to offer and it’s great that superfast broadband is helping them to do that more efficiently and effectively.”

The iNorthumberland broadband programme, a key part of the council’s growth investment, is being delivered by Northumberland County Council and BT. BT was awarded the contract in April 2013 following a procurement exercise through the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) framework. A second phase contract was signed in June which will see more than £4.1 million invested in the programme area in addition to the £18.9 million initially invested by Northumberland County Council, BDUK, BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 1

By the end of the two phases more than 149,000 premises within the programme area will have access to fibre broadband.

For up to date information on available business support and the roll-out visit www.inorthumberlandbusiness.co.uk or www.inorthumberland.org.uk..


1 The iNorthumberlandproject is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.communities.gov.uk/erdf

Superfast Britain is a Government investment of £1.08bn in broadband and communication infrastructure across the UK. Run by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, this investment helps businesses to grow, creates jobs and will make Britain more competitive in the global race. The portfolio comprises three linked programmes:

  • £780m to extend superfast broadband to 95% of the UK by 2017
  • £150m to provide high speed broadband to businesses in 22 cities
  • £150m to improve quality and coverage of mobile phone and basic data network services.
  • Administered on behalf of Government by Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK), Superfast Britain is transforming Britain by promoting growth, enabling skills and learning, and improving quality of life.

    For further information: https://www.gov.uk/broadband-delivery-uk