Inspired Stockport is a social enterprise that aims to remove obstacles by offering quality, no-pressure, tailored-made learning.

With a no-pressure approach, Inspired Stockport provide a programme of free ‘first steps’ courses, in English, Maths and basic ICT, all offering a positive approach to enjoyment and achievement.

One lady, a self-confessed technophobe in her 70s, is now a computer pro and can do things she never thought possible. She said: “It’s amazing what you can learn on a computer. It really opens up your world and changes your life. I can now email my friends who live abroad and stay in touch with them really easily – I can even attach photos to send them of my holidays.”

Judith McGarty and Tina Rowland, Inspired Stockport’s co-founders, had many years’ experience working for a local council as Skills for Life teachers.

Many of their learners endure mental health problems, are severely affected by poor literacy, have physical ill-health or are former carers. A surprising number have had life-changing accidents or illnesses. Most live on low incomes and digital progress has left them behind. Barriers like these can cause a lack of confidence and, frequently, the speed required to success on traditional courses.

Judith and Tina saw a need for new skills, an increase in self-esteem and free courses on their doorstep, at a level and pace tailored to their individual needs.

The aim of Inspired Stockport is to empower participants with sessions that allow for lots of repetition and the gain of independent skills. They want to ‘future proof’ people so they feel confident to organise appointments, complete online forms, order shopping and medication. They encourage emailing and Skype making it easier to stay connected, preventing future isolation. There’s also a strong social element to their courses.

Judith said: “Tiny gains can have a massive impact on an individual’s quality of life. Sylvia was able to download 300 photos of her grandchildren living in Brazil, Zeina was able to improve her CV to showcase years of voluntary experience, and was then offered a higher level job than the one she applied for. Freya was given a brand new tablet by a well-meaning relative, but lacked enough help to confidently use it. Suddenly whisked into hospital for several weeks, the tablet became her lifeline.

“Despite all the challenges there are tremendous rewards when we see people’s triumphs and advances. As one of our valued volunteers put it recently: ‘some have really had to stick at it to make progress, but when they do achieve it, it can make the hair on the top of my head stand up.’ This when we know Inspired Stockport is making a difference.”