Uncertain future for ‘godsend’ IT facility

W52045H13-GuildbourneITFunding''Guildbourne IT Workshop Funding. The Guildbourne Centre IT Workshop has had it's Lottery funding bid rejected.  Pictured is IT manager, Andy Sheppard. Worthing.
W52045H13-GuildbourneITFunding''Guildbourne IT Workshop Funding. The Guildbourne Centre IT Workshop has had it's Lottery funding bid rejected. Pictured is IT manager, Andy Sheppard. Worthing.

THE future of the Guildbourne IT Workshop is uncertain after an application for a National lottery grant was rejected.

Manager Andy Sheppard applied for £190,000 to cover costs and equipment at the facility for the next three years.

“We have never had any Lottery funding for the actual centre, just for the computer equipment,” Mr Sheppard said.

“The centre costs around £60,000 a year to run which is the bare minimum that we need because we also need equipment on top of that.
“It would also be good to employ another full time member of staff because at the moment it is just me and around 10 volunteers who are absolutely invaluable. We are currently seeing between 150 to 200 people a week.”

The workshop, which has been funded by the owner of the Guildbourne Centre since May 2011, caters for the elderly, adults, disabled people and clients that use the job centre.

Mr Sheppard said: “If we close there would be nowhere else for them to go.

“The Lottery has given us pointers on how to strengthen our application and we hope to submit it again but this time break down exactly what we do and how we help people, so it is about going into depth about what we offer.

“The oldest person I have taught was 96 so that goes to show that there is no upper age limit.

“Everyone is welcome here, we do not discriminate on location, age, gender or ethnicity and we have had people come to us from as far as London.

“We differ from other centres in the UK because what we offer is free and we also do all one to one training.

“People come here to learn how to use a computer or how to use a tablet, how to send and receive emails and how to use social media.

Workshop user Diane Firth, 74, of Rogate Road, Worthing, said: “It would be disastrous if this wonderful facility was forced to close due to insufficient funds-I have been relying on it ever since I first went there and without it I would be unable to continue sending and receiving emails.

“This is a valuable unique facility available to the public regardless of age or ability.

“It has been a godsend to me particularly as there is no charge.”