From homeless to inspiration: Ravi’s digital skills journey

When Ravi Sundararajan's plans for his future were interrupted by changes to his family life he eventually found himself homeless and alone. Luckily, thanks to a homeless charity and local Online Centre, his prospects are looking better than ever.

Ravi is one of the stars of Get Online Week 2017

"I grew up in Surrey then Lancashire and Yorkshire," explains 59-year-old Ravi. "My mother passed away when I was young but I still worked hard at school and left with O-levels and A-levels. My plan was to go to Cardiff University. I was set for a successful career in 'mechanical engineering'."

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be. Ravi's father remarried and his home life was disrupted. He was made to leave the family home, so he couldn't continue his education. He travelled to India to reunite with his cultural heritage.

After struggling to settle in India, Ravi returned to the UK - to London - in 2016 but his father had since passed away. He had no friends or family to turn to and his situation worsened.

"I was forced to live rough on the streets," explains Ravi. "I spent four nights literally homeless living under Victoria Railway Station. Luckily, I was picked up by a homeless charity and given food and shelter for three weeks."

The homeless charity carried out assessments with Ravi and eventually referred him to national charity Emmaus who offered him a space in a shared house in Gloucestershire.

Ravi says: "Emmaus provided me with food, clothing and a small personal allowance in exchange for volunteering in their charity shops.

"I wanted to learn computer skills and one of my support workers told me about the classes run by Online Centre Adult Education Gloucestershire and that's how I came to study computing."

Since he began his digital skills journey Ravi has attended several workshops and completed lots of courses on Good Things Foundation's online learning platform Learn My Way. He's become so confident, he's even helping other learners to improve their chances in life.

Ravi says: "The whole process has helped me speak confidently to others on the course and those in my local community. I have even persuaded a fellow Emmaus worker to join in the workshops too. I have applied for other courses including IT classes and these will help me apply for jobs and build up my self-confidence.

"I have found that by returning to learning I have reignited my thirst for knowledge and I find it very inspiring attending classes.

"The support and opportunities I have been given since arriving in Gloucester are helping me to get the skills I need to move on with my own life and to work towards a goal of being able to live independently."