Digital skills net homeless man £250 of John Lewis vouchers

02 Jun 2016

A homeless man from Oxford has won £250 from John Lewis, having taken a computer course at his local Crisis centre.

Peter Jacobs, 46, found out about Crisis Skylight Oxford from the Jobcentre, and went along to see how they could help him. He discovered they were also a UK online centre, and started on a Learn My Way course to improve his digital skills.

Pretty soon he’d learnt enough to take an Online Basics assessment, and was automatically entered into a prize draw when he passed. He was thrilled to learn that out of hundreds of entries he’d won £250 of John Lewis vouchers!

Peter says: “I couldn’t believe it when they told me I’d won these vouchers! I never win anything. I was so happy - I told all my family and friends about it.

“To be honest I wasn’t sure about taking the Online Basics test. In fact the first time I took it I made a right mess of it! But my tutor Mick said to keep at it, so I did, and the next time I passed.

“I knew nought about computers at the beginning. At first it was hard, but it got easier. And when you go for jobs it’s all on the internet now, so you’ve got to do it. I’ve tried computer courses before but I didn’t get on with them. Here it’s different - more relaxed - and I liked learning with Learn My Way. Now I’ve got something for my CV - I can say I’ve done computers.”

Peter became homeless after being kicked out by his ex-girlfriend, and after some time on the streets where he was mugged and beaten up, he knew he had to make a change.

“I was on the drink for a while,” says Peter, “but I’m trying to get off it now. They don’t let you drink at Crisis or at the night shelter. I‘ve been a washing up assistant at the shelter for a long time, plus I’m a trainee chef as well. It’s hard to find work when you’ve got no experience, and if you’ve got a criminal record, so you need to get experience, and you need to get skills. That’s what I’ve been doing - and it’s great to get a reward for that.”

Peter is still learning with Learn My Way and building his IT skills, attending classes every Wednesday, alongside training to be a chef. Thankfully he’s now off the streets, but he’s still sleeping on various friends’ couches. However, his confidence has grown and his outlook for the future is positive.

He says: “I’m going to use my John Lewis vouchers to buy clothes to go to interviews in. Who knows - I might even end up getting a job working with computers!”

Thank you to the John Lewis Partnership for sponsoring the prize