Sargent Paul McDermott, Debbie Tierney, Annette Meacle and Ciaran Mulloley. Photo: Michelle Ghee.
A crime and health meeting in Lanesboro on Monday night heard how the south Longford community is going to focus on ensuring that at least one person in every home becomes computer literate this year.
This will assist the entire community to connect with each other and therefore help and protect each other in the battle against rural crime.
Debbie Tierney, tutor of the digital skills training said the course will focus on learning how to use smart phones and computers not just to ensure safety in the community but also to assist users to bank online, pay their car tax, shop and pay bills.
“The aim,” she added, “is to help people to be able to do the basics online like banking, paying the car tax, etc.”
She then asked those present how all of this can be utilised to prevent crime in the community and to help our neighbours and friends in time of difficulty.
There is also talk of a pilot scheme being conducted in the locality to help tackle rural crime, but Ms Tierney insisted that if that scheme was to be successful, it would be essential that at least one person in every house be computer literate.
“People need to learn the basics to get the best use from the internet - it’s about being proactive and getting prepared for the new developments that are coming around,” she said, before pointing out that over half of those in their 60s in Ireland don’t use the internet.
“That is a big chunk of people and if we look at the other half and what they are getting from it - they are able to pay bills, top-up meters, tax their car - a whole number of things.”
The local tutor says that being computer literate brings a great sense of independence because people can do things for themselves.
“You may have come to believe that it is too late to learn, well that is a very common misconception,” Ms Tierney smiled.
“A lot of older people now are able to communicate with their children and grandchildren via instant messaging and video, so everyone can learn.
“You might be worried about online threats but we will learn how to protect yourself on the internet during the course.
“You will learn how to be safe and secure.
“A small amount of training, some support and lots of practice will enable you to go online very easily.
She also pointed out that social media would help those in attendance to communicate with family and friends; share photos and videos worldwide and become part of groups that they had an interest in.
Even farmers in the area could benefit greatly from the course.
“Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine is the big one online now,” she added.
“Once a farmer can use the internet, it will be so easy to navigate that website and get the work done that needs to be done.
“Online shopping is another big one; if you find yourself at home with no lift into town, you can order your food or groceries and get them delivered to your door.
“The benefits of the digital skills training are many.”
Training consists of 10 hours and will take place at Lanesboro Community College.
A questionnaire was then handed around to determine the needs of those interested in partaking in the course.
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