Blackpool’s ‘silver surfers’ will be making their first waves in the online world as part of a set of special sessions taking place next week.
‘Get Online Week’ will see Blackpool Council host four free taster sessions to help people in town get used to using computers and the internet.
For some, it will be the first time in their lives that they have entered the world-wide web.
The week is part of a local campaign to make more residents au fait with computers, after it was revealed that 17% of people in Blackpool have never been online.
The coffee afternoons will be a relaxed environment for anybody to come and ask questions about computing, as well as learning the basics.
The sessions will take place between 2pm and 4pm at Moor Park library on Tuesday, Palatine Library on Wednesday, Revoe Library on Thursday and Layton Library on Friday.
Cllr Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council’s designated digital champion, said: “It can be a daunting step to get online for the first time.
“However the benefits of being connected to the internet are huge. For individuals it can do a range of things, from accessing helpful services and information, to keeping in touch with friends and relatives.
“For businesses, the potential boost from getting online is massive. It can get help get new customers, find cheaper suppliers and manage your tax returns in a much easier way.
“There are a number of ways to get help to go online, and these computer courses are a really relaxed way of learning the basics. It couldn’t be easier to get started online and we will help you every step of the way.”
Following changes to Universal Credit, all Blackpool applicants claiming the benefit now need to do so through the internet.
As a result, Blackpool Council partnered up with digital inclusion charity Go On, to offer support to people affected.
An estimated one million people in the North West still lack basic digital skills such as sending an email, while over a third of charities and small businesses in the region are also missing out on the benefits of the internet.
In Blackpool, the problem is thought to be even worse, with 17% of Blackpool residents having never been online, compared to 13% nationally.
And despite popular misconceptions, it’s not a problem that just affects the older generation. Research shows that a while a lot of younger people know how to look at social media on their phones, they struggle when it comes to searching and completing forms over the internet.
The ‘Go On Blackpool’ campaign, being run by Blackpool Council and digital charity Go On, hopes to help more people across the town to embrace computers and the internet.
Blackpool Council has also signed up to a digital skills charter, which commits the authority to help every individual, small or medium business, and charity to get online and improve their digital skills.
As part of signing the charter, the Council also offers free computer classes to all residents at its eight libraries.
To find out more about the Go On charity, or to sign up as a digital champion, visit www.go-on.co.uk