Lifelong learning during Be Online Week

The Realise Foundation is a Regeneration Charity that works to help the local area with money earmarked to help people gain new skills for employment, get into or stay in education or by making a physical change to benefit the local area. As a charity focused on unleashing the potential of North Staffordshire, a key objective has been and continues to be to support lifelong learning opportunities.

As part of this the Realise Foundation has awarded around £10,000 to over 20 individuals to empower them access to online and digital services through provision of software, hardware or internet access.

In the last 4 years the Realise Foundation has made it a key priority to help local students, especially mature students, to gain skills and qualifications. Recognising that having usable IT greatly helps educational attainment, Realise continues to support individuals who otherwise would not be able to access this alone.

For example, fifteen students were helped to undertake their studies thanks to grants valued at £7,500 from the Realise Foundation. Keely Williams used her laptop to help her with her degree course in forensic psychology at Staffordshire University. She said: “I don’t have a computer at home and this will help me with my assignments. I want to use the degree to get a job working with offenders, helping them not to offend anymore.”

Aiden Clay studies games design at Staffordshire University and he was advised to apply to the Realise Foundation as one of a series of extra support measures to help him. He said: “It will help me to study at a pace that suits me.”

Kayleigh Spender started a degree in psychology and counselling at Staffordshire University after having put her higher education on hold after having children. She said: “The laptop will allow me to study effectively. I can now do what I’ve wanted to do since I was 16.”

As well as the Life Long Learning bursary, Realise has funded community computer groups alongside Staffordshire County Council Adult and Community Learning and Age UK with £3,000 direct donations used to buy laptops individuals can use. Reaching almost 100 people and providing key skills to the elderly and unemployed, these computer groups made huge impacts in their local communities.