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Islington Libraries free Wi-Fi helps residents into employment

The digital offer is expected to help residents with their jobsearch, accessing benefits and welfare advice or simply keeping in touch with friends and family.


A growing number of residents have mobile technology - including laptops, tablets, smartphones and iPads - but still have to pay for the cost of connection when using them outside of local wireless hotzones or the reach of their own broadband home services.


But following an extension of the successful digital inclusion scheme in libraries, the Council's free Wi-Fi could save hundreds of residents from paying 'surfing charges' and provide some welcome respite from the growing cost of living crisis in the borough.  


Library customers with a Wi-Fi enabled laptop or other device can get on to the libraries network by a simple log-in and the service is free to all library customers.


It is hoped the initiative could also encourage more people to visit libraries for the first time, where they can take advantage of a large number of free learning and digital services. 


Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council's executive member for health and wellbeing said:


"We are proud to have kept all our libraries open despite government cuts.  At the same time we have invested in new technologies to keep the service up to date for a new generation of users.


"Times change and we are changing with the times - so all our libraries now offer free Wi-Fi to customers.


"In addition to borrowing a book or CD you can also apply for a job or book a free IT lesson.  And if you just need a quiet place to study or brush up your CV, Islington libraries offer a warm welcome to all residents."


Islington Libraries digital offer is part of a wider programme of support for residents to take advantage of a 'brave new world' of jobs, benefits, advice and shopping services accessible online.


IT novices on housing estates can now access free online training via a team of 20 IT Mentors supplied through the Council's Resident Engagement Team. The enthusiasts will show residents the basics of going online, filling out forms and making purchases safely.


28-year-old IT Mentor, Aziz Nouinou, of N19, has volunteered at Caxton House and Whittington Community Centre for a year, guiding residents through between four and eight online lessons in navigating the world wide web.  


Many of those he helps are older people - even some with dementia - and part of his role is to keep them safe from online scams and fraudsters. Aziz said: 


"There's a strong need for IT support in Islington and I think its great that there's residents can access this through Islington's libraries, on estates and in community centres."


"The older people I see find going online really useful for paying bills, accessing services, doing their shopping and importantly, saving money."


Islington Council offers free Wi-Fi in libraries, free downloadable e.books, free-to-use PC's and a range of online resources including Britannica, Westlaw, Who’s Who, Times Digital archive as well as Life in Great Britain and many more.


Total beginners can book a one-to-one training session with a member of library staff to run through the basics of using a PC and getting online. Staff are also there to troubleshoot if users have a problem.


Adults can also access two learning centres based at libraries in the borough - the First Steps Learning Centre at the Central Library, N5 and the Islington Computer Skills Centre at Finsbury Library, EC1. Classes are also run at the North and West library halls.


In addition, Islington Learning and Working (ILW) have free or reduced cost IT courses for those returning to work or looking to brush up their IT skills.  Courses are available via termly enrolment three times a year in 12 convenient neighbourhood locations.


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