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What do you do with your community IT centre? Community IT and its role in social inclusion Biographical narratives from the IT hub on a large estate with.

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Presentation on theme: "What do you do with your community IT centre? Community IT and its role in social inclusion Biographical narratives from the IT hub on a large estate with."— Presentation transcript:

1 What do you do with your community IT centre? Community IT and its role in social inclusion Biographical narratives from the IT hub on a large estate with multiple indices of deprivation 4-year observer-participant, qualitative, ethnographic study Thank you Jane Seale All the participants at BLITZ … dont feel like Satan but I am the man… Neil Young

2 Bluefield Lanes Large 1960s social housing estate on the periphery of a medium sized city in Southern England Population of 23,874, 18% of the citys population – Together with the adjacent estates in the Regen Arc nearly 1/2 of the citys population, 60,000 people, live in areas where there are multiple indices of deprivation Largest concentration of social housing in the city High unemployment/underemployment and educational under achievement – The most significant issue is education, skills & training attainment with two SOAs in the top third and ten SOAs … in the top ten percent most deprived areas in England

3 But… Jo So maybe its not just the family centre that gave me that energy and that. I think its [this place]. Thats when I became more energised. Moving up here. Coming away from what Id always been brought up with, to coming here, where, you know Ive got that sense of belonging and my childs the happiest I think shell ever be. JeanThats good, because they tend to give this estate such a bad name and a lot of people are afraid to come onto [it]. Because they say where do you live and you say [Bluefield Lanes] and they: aowwooh, how can you live up there. SandraLike you were saying about walking up the street you can walk from one place to another. I think that everyone can say that. Youre bound to run into someone you know and even if you dont know theyll all say hello, you know what I mean… RosaIf you go to other areas you dont really get that. People hate that. People in [Bluefield Lanes] … because we are such a large community in ourselves and what we have here you dont get in other places transcript.doc

4 And, on the other hand… Shonaits like now how many years later down the line its kind of transformed itself to be true you know like the young people getting involved in a lot of drugs and crime and especially this whole knives and guns thing at the moment as well thats you know really scary… You know its like for me how many more years is it going to be til actually those guns are out because everyone knows somebody in [the city] whos got some kind of gun or weapon you know what I mean, I dont care what anyone says somebody knows somebody thats got something you know and its just like because you know were not in London or Birmingham, youre not hearing gunshots every five minutes its only a matter of time transcript.doc

5 And… JovenThe … community is not the way where people thought it was. A lot of changes have happened in this place it is no longer the place where youve say the criminals live or bad people, its not all bad people, theyre good people. This centre has helped to contribute to that. Because, I see it does have a youth IT hub. The youth will come here and help in this centre with the games and the computer and all that. And I believe this centre since it started has helped to improve what you… you lay a standard of this community. So my story can be long but I also want to shorten it by saying that I have really seen, Ive benefitted and I believe the community has benefitted by people who have passed through here transcript

6 And… MarieSo when I first moved on to […], as I say I found the experience actually pretty stressful, I mean I was very delighted to have my own place as I said but I immediately encountered quite a lot of sort of anti-social behaviour, people were pulling up my garden and throwing stones at my windows and that kind of thing, random teenage behaviour … I did kind of wonder about, you know moving here and how it would be Ive never been around heroin addicts before but well, yeah kind of gatherings of them sometimes, Im not sure if I can make any judgment about that other than just sometimes theres quite a lot of twitchiness I suppose just suddenly brews up for one reason or another transcript

7 Gaps in knowledge The life histories, experiences and voices of the users of community IT centres are largely absent from the literature – Users of centres are represented by synthetic descriptions and models of the problematic other, often culled from the analyses of research into the experience of centre managers and evaluation reports of various initiatives

8 Gaps in our understanding In respect of adult community education policy there are gaps in our understanding of – the relationship between personal development and community development – the relationship between social capital development and human capital development – the relationship between lifelong learning and continuous retraining – and the relationship between an individuals responsibility for skills acquisition for existing jobs whatever they may be, and a social, collective responsibility for development in order to create new, worthwhile, forms of meaningful social and civic participation.

9 Research questions RQ1How do people, who associate themselves with the community IT centre, use that association to make positive changes in their lives? RQ2What factors shape people's use of and engagement with the community IT centre? RQ3What do people actually do with the community IT centre? RQ4What constitutes positive change in respect of people's life histories, identity and values RQ5What, therefore, are the policy implications for community IT centres?

10 Data collection Biographic-narrative interviews: Life stories – Narrative expression is closest to peoples lived experience both of conscious concerns and also less conscious cultural, social and individual presuppositions and processes – Surfacing mainly invisible experiences and contexts of issues that are difficult for society and individuals to confront – Grounding research in bottom-up practice (Barnat & Walmsley, 2004) Appreciative inquiry (AI) focus groups – the act of undertaking research has a transforming effect – needs-based approaches to community development tend to reinforce the circumstances of exclusion – explicitly avoids the discourse of problems allowing people to articulate an empowered discourse of alterierity Participant observation diaries

11 Life stories 10, stage-1 life-story sessions Please tell me the story of your life, the events and experiences that have been important to you, from wherever you want to begin, up to and including the present time: you as a user/volunteer/manager/tutor/friend of the Bluefield Lanes IT Zone

12 Focus Groups: Learning lunches 2 groups (6 &10) Appreciative approach – attempt to get beyond essentialism, ethical foundationalism and hierarchical ordering of identity politics (Gergen) – affirms a sensibility towards the inner dimensions of teaching and practitioner research that would include the imagination, emotion and passion involved in reflective practice (Luckcock) – part of an integrated approach to community – and particularly community-driven – development. interviews and storytelling that draw out... positive memories, and on a collective analysis of the elements of success. (Mathie & Cunningham )

13 Rules – deciding factors In making decisions about using the IT centre – Domestic – family – Community – positive, negative – Learning, education – sophisticated understanding of formal-informal, qualifications-learning – Work, civic engagement, caring – not all about money routes to employment depend only weakly upon qualifications – Feelings, emotion confusion, envy, fatigue, fear, gratitude, guilt, happiness, hate, humour, loss, love, pride, respect, sorrow, success – Values challenging wrongs, respect, making the best of what you got, trustworthiness, do what you love, integrity, learning together, determination, professionalism

14 Computers matter? Interestingly computer use does not come up very much in peoples discussions about their use of the community IT centre! Why? – Computers are just a part of life. – Computers are not that important to me – Using computers is fun – I need computers to keep up with my friends and family. – Computers are just about work – I hate computers What does matter?

15 Demographics? Variation and individuation is vast Classification may inhibit understanding – Counting and dividing could be part of the problem e.g. Black, African, Caribbean – Woman of African heritage, alienated from the much larger Caribbean community – African man, son of the Minister of Finance, alienated from his parents – African man, ex civil servant, retired to England – African man, refugee, journalist, ex-combat officer in liberation wars – First, second, third generation Jamaican British White, Asian, East Timorese, West Papuan, Santhelenian, Serbian, Afghan, Yank and many others

16 Shona(African) Theres the black issue. The black issues always been an issue anywhere. I even remember when I was like 20 or 21 there were a lot of West Indians here and stuff so its kind of like they never really had a high opinion of Africans then. Do you know what I mean, then it was all kind of like, Im African. Im African [quickly] da da da. And if you try to say anything about the African ancestry, you know, its like, Im Jamaican! Im Jamaican! de de de! So you know. … people just automatically assume that I am West Indian. They wont even consider the fact that Im African. They just straight-away assume that I am West Indian. And even down to the elders in the West Indian community: Whos your mum and dad? You know like, You wont know my mum and dad transcript.doc Sandra(West Indian) English. Oh yes, I am definitely English SandraRnd2

17 JoIn [place] it was all about cliques. It was all about fitting in with certain people. But, coming to [Bluefield Lanes] everyone just got on with everyone. Everyone had a sense of belonging. You werent just the white person or the black person. You werent the older person or the younger person. You were all together, all united. I had a strong sense of belonging after moving to [Bluefield]. I made really strong friendships and I still have them. And, I keep making more friendships through, thing [IT hub], here transcript.doc But…

18 People JeanBlack, British, Jamaican arrived as child, female, 50-60, community nurse AlexandraWhite, British, 30-40, lone parent, community development officer, FD (MA) Allen Black, British, 1 st gen WI, 30-40, married (to head of English), youth worker AngelaWhite, British, single parent of 2, 30-40, RGN AnnaWhite, British, 60-70, lone parent, serial employment & travel, HND CatherineWhite, English, 30-40, parent, part-time creche worker HaidarAsian, British Pakistani, unemployed, lone parent, 40-50, electro-mechanical engineer JamieWhite, Irish, part time employed care worker, ex drugs, ex prison, JoWhite, British, female, 20-30, lone parent, unemployed JovenBlack, Kenyan, male, 60-70, retired civil servant, studying theology, BA MarieWhite, English, 30-40, lone parent, counsellor MattWhite, British, male, 40-50, single, community development worker PatriciaWhite, British, female, 20-30, single, part-time adult community tutor, BA PhilippeBlack, Ivorean, arrived as student, 40-50, married, 2 children, PO clerk, MSc RobertWhite, English, 50+, single, unemployed, writer RosaBlack, British, female, 30-40, 1 st gen WI, British youth pentathalon champion SandraBlack, British, 1 st gen WI, 30-40, lone parent, unemployed, IT centre volunteer ShonaBlack, British, African arrived (Zambia) as child, 30-40, lone parent, HND

19 Counting and dividing (tbc) Superficially representative sample? Information emerged from life stories Gender – Female11 – Male7 Colour – Black7 – White10 – Asian1 Heritage – British9} – Irish1} – African3} English?? – WI4} – Pakistan1} Age – – – – – Employment – No – P/T – Yes – Retired – Other The already educated continue to participate in PCDL

20 AlexandraI was really kind of always having this dream about having some amazing job one day and never really actually having one. And I think that that happened because um I left school when I was 14 and I had like.. a bit like school phobia and I used to have panic attacks and not go into classrooms. And that was why I didnt do really well when I was at school. And then … they got me on to an A-level course which I had to abandon because I was pregnant with my first child. So that was when I was 18. …and when I realised that I could not write a letter I felt quite awful I thought how can I ever be somebody that does jobs and works and stuff so um Its kind of interesting to remember that but I do remember sitting, sitting and staring at that screen thinking that I cant write this letter I really cant do that [laughs] Im useless, Im no good, Im never gona make it transcript.doc

21 PhilippeMy sole purpose for being here was to study all the way to post doctoral level because my father, my father, this was how he seen things … so I embarked onto a long project with financial support from home because that was tradition until I sent to him a letter and said to him: look, I am a grown-up man, you have to understand that things arent as they were; we suffered a heavy currency devaluation; therefore there was no need for you to stretch your financial means and send me money; not just that, I could fly by myself transcript SandraI like working with people, I like working in my own community but kind of didnt have, had recent qualifications but didnt have any work experience so I kind of just volunteered here to pick up stuff, pick up and learn more stuff, so I kind of basically self-taught myself a lot of stuff I knew on computers but like I knew certain stuff but maybe didnt know the jargon, no didnt know the jargon actually but knew how to do it but if someone said to me Do you know how to do such and such?, Id be like no, but then Id see them do it and then Oh yeah, I can do it, but didnt know what they were talking about transcript

22 Community learning Community education is a small backwater in the Learning and Skills Sector … a vast and complex world which is restructured so frequently that it has become a full-time job just to read about the latest turns and twists of policy, never mind respond to them. (Coffield 2006)

23 Funding policy Adult Community Learning is not currently to be included in the demand led funding models although there is no clarity about what is meant by community learning (Slowey 2007) Funding of Personal and Community Development Learning (PCDL) will remain outside these funding models for the time being. (Learning and Skills Council 2007) Leitch Review of Skills has recommended that all publicly-funded adult vocational skills in England, apart from community learning and programmes for those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities, should go through demand-led routes by (Learning and Skills Council 2007) – Note the collocation of community learning with programmes for those with learning difficulties and/or disabilities. The third leg of this stool is prison-based learning and the rehabilitation of offenders

24 Who is policy for? Policy enacted not from concern for the excluded – except to the extent they can be reformed, remediated – socially integrated – through training The principal audiences for policy are voters and employers – The excluded are a social disorder cost to the taxpayer a supply of compliant workers to an insecure labour market People may therefore see themselves in the mirror of policy as problems to be solved for and by others, rather than agents of their own world

25 Voices ShonaThe other thing I was going to say, I suppose, is that Im here but I dont know how much thats got to do with the IT Hub or even the learning champions transcript SandraI like community learning because it fits around people and whatevers going on with them, you know what I mean. Universities and colleges are, you know: this is what we got to offer, take it or leave it, whereas with the learning champion type of stuff weve been talking to people: what do you want. It can be so varied, you know what I mean? transcript

26 Voices PhilippeSee so it means what that these facilities can change peoples lives because I can testify for that. If I did not have these facilities well I wouldnt say that I would not have achieved this but how can I tell? Because I did not fail so how could I tell? If I did not have these facilities and I failed I would conclude, well because I didnt have the facilities then I fail... But I had the facilities and I made the best out of the facilities and I achieved this transcript.doc JamieIve got a sister on the estate down the road as well who never really used computers, you know like from seeing me coming here shes started accessing this computer hub too. Eventually given my brother sorts himself out, you know, get him maybe on a couple of short courses here just to give him that self esteem, you know and… you know its just that access to I think that the principle of that is the most important transcript

27 Voices Haidarbut you know, over here you wont find alcoholics and drinking in the IT Centre (laughs), its quite, you know, a very civilised community… when I come here there is a bit of calmness in me …this IT Centre is also like a safe haven for me, where I can come and (coughs) and maybe talk to someone about my problems transcript.doc JamieIve got a sister on the estate down the road as well who never really used computers, you know like from seeing me coming here shes started accessing this computer hub too. Eventually given my brother sorts himself out, you know, get him maybe on a couple of short courses here just to give him that self esteem, you know and… you know its just that access to I think that the principle of that is the most important transcript

28 Voices Marie[no internet at home] I guess it was a money saving thing and then I was going to get a cable package, but then when I was heavily pregnant I had to get a new phone sorted out, basically it was just too much hassle to try getting out of my Orange contract and buying a separate mobile and then getting cable sorted out, so I sort of still dont have it. And in the meantime Ive sort of been off on maternity leave and gone back to trying to be frugal so having the IT centre there has sort of stopped me having to get it. Although I think, you know I will make that leap in the not too distant future just because while the IT Centre is absolutely great there are times when its you know obviously not available. IT access in the evening now particularly having a child. Rachel and the IT Centre together dont seem to mix very well transcript

29 Voices SandraI got involved in Facebook quite recently, its only in the last eight weeks I think because everyones like You should get on Facebook, you should get on Facebook, but the people that said to me you should get on Facebook, they are addicted to it and they spend hours on it and Im just like, Im trying to stop the amount of time I spend on computers, Im not getting involved in Facebook because people spend a lot of time on there, my computer when Im at home, Ive got a work laptop and then Ive got my PC as well and my computer is on all the time, were playing games, Im really big on Sims 2, I play that all the time, so me and my son as well were game freaks, we play a lot of games and I keep setting myself these goals transcript

30 Voices Robertit just occurred to me a few minutes ago, that I can remember being frightened by computers, not very many years ago. I can remember seeing people on TV using them, in drama or in documentaries or whatever, and it being a mixture of fear and an envy that they were using a computer and I wasnt, because it would be very useful. I mean years ago, a computer would have been very useful for me transcript JamieSo that was at the first point I starting accessing this centre and what it had to offer. So I was going for a court case, I was having to document phone calls, visits, you know for the first time in my life I was having to keep evidence for my own purposes … Like I have got a daughter you know and I am constantly, you know Im coming here to , to jolt the mother, you know like can your daughter, can your daughter see her real father now, transcript Haidarshe wants to come on Saturday to do homework, she wants to be part of the community team, while Dads doing his PC Maintenance Course, shes very keen to come and do her homework and really wants to know whats going on (laughs) so its, I think its a very good bonding station would I say where people are free to talk and exchange information and experiences (laughs) at times transcript

31 Relationships more than just the family or community Third spaces – Civic – Domestic – The space between, beyond, outside, ulterior, where identity projects take place Freire: practice-theory => praxis Foucault: knowledge-power => discipline Bhabha: oppressor-oppressed=> third space Giddens: collectivism-individualism => third way Voxpop: civic-domestic => bars, malls, sports

32 Tentative thoughts Conceptualising community IT centres as places where formal education and learning takes place is at least problematic Funding based on simplistic models of education may serve to embed social divisions Seek community development or local economic development support not linked to educational attainment Assisted or supported voluntarism may be a way forward: provide facilities in a location where multiple agencies and social enterprises operate

33 CIC: Research Impact! The primary aim of the BLITZ Community Interest Company (CIC) is to develop digital literacy and reduce the effect of the digital divide for adults, by making available and promoting the use of C&IT by providing a social learning space together with formal and informal learning and development opportunities. Objectives – Free internet access – Formal learning opportunities – Computing for complete Beginners to Intermediate – Bridge to NVQ and ITQ – complementary offer

34 Thank you! George Roberts Southampton University Oxford Brookes University

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