Dearne Electronic Community Village

In 2009, a group began that changed the lives of residents in Thurnscoe for the better. Recognising the long-term impact of mine closures and redundancies, the Dearne Electronic Community Village stepped in to support local residents.

When local mines closed, many residents of Thurnscoe felt the impact. The thriving community became quiet and unemployment rose. As the years went on, unemployment rates rose even further as the need for manual labour jobs decreased. In addition, the number of residents who were eligible for manual jobs went down as many were unable to work on health grounds. Seeing the need for employment, the Dearne Electronic Community Village was created to enhance and, in most cases, teach ICT skills to locals in a bid to help them gain employment.

With funding of £5,000 from Park Spring Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund, the DECV can continue helping members of its community to feel confident with their IT skills and more hopeful when applying for jobs. Working with individuals who have been referred on from other agencies, the DECV allows its members to carry out a variety of courses from entry level upwards, all accredited with the OCR exam board.

In addition, members of the DECV can work on writing or improving their CV and cover letter alongside asking any general IT questions that could help them in the future. Completing the courses and improving their CV’s have allowed many members of the DECV to gain employment. Beginning with an initial skills assessment, most members then go on to complete their entry-level qualifications before progressing onwards to levels 1-3. Most sessions are spent with half the focus on ICT skills and the other half spent on employability skills. Both valuable assets in the modern world.

With usually around 4-5 individuals in each group, the group leader Rory Garforth can also give 1-1 support to those who need extra encouragement.

Reliant on different funding for different days, the DECV works on a hand-to-mouth basis. Currently, funding from SYCF allows the DECV to run its services all day Tuesday and on a Wednesday morning. The money mainly goes towards the funding of a tutor to help members of the group achieve their ICT potential. At the moment, there is only the one tutor running each session although, in time, volunteers will be sought.

There are many success stories of individuals who have come to the DECV and, as a result of their work, have found employment. Session tutor and group coordinator Rory Garforth recalled one particular woman who grew profoundly in confidence since joining the DECV:

“She had been on long term sickness, suffering with health issues including stress and anxiety.  I first met her when she visited the library and we chatted about her attending once per week, just to take the ICT course.  At this point, she didn’t think she was ready for returning to work and the job centre agreed. She began to attend sessions once per week for 3 hours. 

“We started from the very beginning and I enrolled her on the OCR ICT course.  It took her around 6 months to complete it and she never missed a session.

“As her confidence grew, so did her desire to return to work.  She had worked for 20 years in a factory environment and was keen to return to a similar role or to try something new like retail work.   

“We began working on an updated CV, Cover letters and signing up to job sites. We spent 3 hours per week searching and applying for positions. She had a few set backs but by September 2018 she wanted something to keep her mind occupied and was worried about falling into the old cycle of anxiety and depression.

“She applied for a job as a quality assurance checker and really wanted it as it was close to her parent’s house. We ran an interview preparation session and she also came to see me before her interview. She was nervous but I managed to calm her down and reassure her. She rang me later that day to tell me that she got the job, she was delighted and so was I! She still has the job and is enjoying it thoroughly!”

The  results of the DECV are evident throughout the community. Many residents are now employed and better able to take care of themselves and their families. Without Rory, Thurnscoe locals would be lacking in the skills and confidence they need to get back into the world of work.