Free CambWifi helps people get online

The free CambWifi network, launched by Connecting Cambridgeshire in early 2015, has meant that new Internet Clubs have been able to start up in public buildings, including libraries and children’s centres.

One such group is the Soham Internet Club which meets every two weeks at Soham library.

The club offers IT help for learners with computers and tablet/mobile devices. They also offer advice to people wanting to create an electronic CV, or help with online job seeking.. Attendees can use laptops supplied by Cambridgeshire County Council or take their own devices.

Groups like these are also helping older people with their computer skills. Howard Dyson, 70, enquired about gaining IT skills through Soham library and was signposted to the club.

Howard said of the club: “It has helped me to find days out for my friends and also means I can keep up to date with what’s happening in the world.”

“I felt as if I was missing out on things before as most events advertise online these days.”

A number of these clubs now run across Cambridgeshire thanks to the DWP Future Skills Fund and UKOnline’s Future Digital Inclusion Project.

Nyree Scott, Project Manager for Library Learning Service, who oversees the clubs said:“Being able to get free CambWifi is fantastic. We could not have launched the Soham Internet Club without it and it means people can get online more easily.”

Soham

Help to get online

Cambridgeshire County Council’s libraries and adult skills team supports a range of internet groups and computer sessions to help people get online with the help of local digital volunteers. For more information, contact Nyree.scott@cambridgeshire.gov.uk

Library Computer buddies offer one-hour free sessions to help people aged over 50 with basic/beginner IT/Computer skills. The sessions are led by skilled volunteer tutors and are flexible to suit individual computer skills needs. Customers are also encouraged to try a number of online Digital Unite guides to help with basic computer skills before booking a free buddying session. Call 0345 054 5200 to find out more.

Library Try Before You Buy events also run throughout the county allowing library visitors to test drive eBook readers, thanks to free events organised in partnership with local retailers. Customers can also learn about the fantastic selection of eBooks, eAudio books, eMagazines and eNewspapers now available from Cambridgeshire Libraries.



Free CambWifi helps young families

Being able to go online with free WiFi is having a huge impact on supporting young families in Cambridgeshire’s Children’s Centres.

The new CambWifi network is going live in 16 Children’s Centres across the county, provided by Cambridgeshire County Council through the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme.

Joanne Maxwell, manages The ArC, Chesterton and North Cambridge Children Centres in Cambridge, where 80 children and their families are supported intensively by Family Workers. North Cambridge Children’s Centres offer a range of sessions including new arrivals, children’s play, parenting courses and drop-in advice.

Some centres in Cambridgeshire share their sites with a nursery school and/or a community centre, which means they are busy meeting places for local families.

Joanne said: “Having CambWifi has made a huge impact on our work with families because it is much more accessible and easy to use. We encourage parents at our drop-in sessions to look things up for themselves such as job searches, information about benefits, housing applications and family health queries.

“This is the joy of being able to go online. It is fabulous that they are now able to do that with free CambWifi in our Children’s Centres.”

Most people use their own smart phones or tablets to access the Internet and the Children’s Centres are looking to set up a laptop for families to use on site.

CambWifi is safe and simple to use, with security filters that block unsuitable sites. Users only need to register once to be logged in automatically in all CambWifi locations.

More than 100 public buildings have gone live with CambWifi, with more to come across the county. Visit http://www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk/public-wifi to view a map and list of locations, with details of how to join the network.


Free WiFi makes a big difference for Cambridge community centre

Free public access WiFi is making a big difference for many users of The Meadows Community Centre, which serves several housing estates in Arbury on the edge of Cambridge, with many families on low incomes.

The busy centre has over 71,000 visitors each year and is seeing growing numbers of people connecting to the free CambWifi service since it was went live in March 2015.

They include: young parents bringing children to nursery, college students doing research, people working or socialising in the café, attending meetings, training and advice sessions, or taking part in a wide range of sports and fitness classes.

Local youth clubs are providing laptops for young people to access the Internet, using the secure CambWifi service, under the supervision of youth workers.

Jackie Hanson, who oversees the centre for Cambridge City Council said: “We are really pleased to have free CambWifi, which is much easier to use, more reliable and available across the centre. It’s also secure with all the right filters, which is very important.

“People use the centre for a wide range of different activities and being able to get free CambWifi makes a big difference. We have a lot of people on low incomes who can’t afford access to the Internet at home so it means they can come into the café, buy a coffee and connect with their family or work.

“People hiring our rooms, such as support workers, use CambWifi to access information to help them and their customers. We also have computers to help people with job seeking and computer drop-in sessions, where they can learn to use technology.

“WiFi is part of everyday life now. People expect to stay connected wherever they are.”

CambWifi is available in over 100 public buildings in Cambridge and beyond including council offices, libraries, children’s centres, Park and Ride sites, leisure centres, sheltered housing and community hubs.

The public access network has been developed by the Connecting Cambridgeshire partnership of local councils with funding from the Government’s SuperConnected Cities scheme.

View a map and list of Public WiFi locations at http://www.connectingcambridgeshire.co.uk/public-wifi