When Anne Ainsworth, 54, was made redundant after 36 years of teaching swimming and trampolining to special needs children and adults, she knew her lack of computer skills were going to make it difficult to find something else.
She admits: “I didn’t even know how to switch a computer on, because I’d never needed to use one at work. When I started out as a Recreational Assistant at 17 years old, computers weren’t even a thing! But now you need to be able to use a computer to do pretty much any kind of job at all.”
It was Anne’s Jobcentre Plus advisor who suggested she go along to the Linkbridge Online Centre to learn some digital skills. They started Anne on Learn My Way - an online learning platform from Good Things Foundation - and she’s not looked back since.
“Learn My Way has been brilliant for me,” says Anne. “The way it’s worded and the way it takes you through and shows you what to do - it’s a fantastic facility. If I get a little bit wrong I can go back and play about with it and do it over until I’ve perfected it.
“The centre is outstanding, and my tutor Robyn is always on hand to help. If I get stuck she’s right there to explain things, but I do most of it myself now. I’ve nearly completed all the courses and I’ve got all these little rosettes - for me getting full marks on the final quizzes is like getting a degree!
“When I’ve finished I’m going to go back and do all the courses again - I’ve enjoyed it that much. I know there’s still so much more for me to pick up and practice. My next goal is to learn how to type with more than two fingers!
“I’d have never believed you if you told me how far I’d come and how fast. I’ve gone right through from the very basics onto things like online banking and online shopping. I can actually send an email now! It might not sound like much to you but for someone who doesn’t even have a mobile phone and who used to avoid the self-checkout computers at the supermarket, it’s a pretty big step!”
Anne lost her job through ill-health, following a bad fall. Learning some new skills has helped build her confidence, and it’s been a key part of her recovery. She says: “I’m fighting fit again now, and I’m ready to get back to work. I’ve lost five stone, I’ve learnt something new that I never thought I’d get to grips with, and I’ve got a whole new outlook on life.
“It was a real boost to type up my CV and realise how much experience I had. And then when I uploaded it onto some job search websites, I was amazed that people actually started offering me all these jobs!
“Right now I’m waiting for the final checks to take place before I can start as a Teaching Assistant for special needs right across Lancashire. It’s my perfect role, and I couldn’t believe it when I saw it come up on the Indeed website. I didn’t have the qualifications they asked for, but I sent in my CV and wrote them a covering email outlining all my experience. After I got home from Linkbridge having pressed send on the email, within half an hour they’d given me a ring! That’s how quick it was. And I can’t wait to get started and get stuck in.
“It feels really good that I’m about to put my 36 years of skills and experience back into use again. And I wouldn’t be about to do that without Linkbridge and Learn My Way, and that’s the absolute truth. It’s like a miracle - I can’t begin to tell you - and it’s given me a whole new lease of life.
“I’d recommend Learn My Way and Online Centres like Linkbridge a hundred million percent. When you start, it’s addictive, and it opens so many doors. It’s much easier than you think it is, and you can get all the help you need. Just go for it!”