An Aston mum of two has found rewarding work she can do from home – thanks to the Aston Pride home computing initiative supported by Digital Birmingham.
Warda Mohammed's son Mohamed Abdullah is a Year 4 pupil at Mansfield Green Community School and is taking part in the Aston Pride 'Computers in the Home' project which is designed to help children and families benefit from digital technology, improving the children's education prospects and helping with adults' skills and employability.
Mohamed was given a computer to use at home to help with his school work – but he wasn't the only family member to benefit.
Since the birth of her second child, Haroon, Warda had been looking for work she could do at home which would fit in with her family commitments.
Fluent in English, Somali, Dutch and Swahili, lone parent Warda used the computer to register with various online jobsites and soon came across a requirement for an online interpreter. It's a job that fits in perfectly with her life and family.
"I can work when I want," says Warda. "I log on so my employer can see I'm available for work and they call me if they need an interpreter.
"I deal with between 10 and 20 calls a day and work for a variety of organisations from local authorities, job centres and immigration offices, the police and doctors' surgeries.
"In addition I also work in the evenings for companies in the US and Australia, dealing with private sector clients such as insurance companies.
"I love the work and it pays well," she adds. "I can work when Haroon is asleep and do two or three hours at a time. Having the computer at home has been great for the whole family."
In an area with above average unemployment, the project helps fulfil Aston Pride's objective of encouraging adults to improve their qualifications, increase opportunities and contribute to economic growth.
Linking with schools is key to achieving this, as Aston Pride's IT manager Michael Lewis says: "In many homes children are more ICT-literate than their parents.
"By supplying a computer to use in the home, the children can encourage other family members to improve their skills.
"The Computers in the Home project is invaluable for their education, too," he adds. "The internet access is the same as the children's school, with the same filters and safeguards. Now, parents can get much more involved in their children's learning, and they can duplicate what's happening at school at home.
"In many cases, depending on the school set-up, children can do their homework and file it online."
Aston Pride supplies around 595 computers to families in Aston, along with wireless connectivity and support.
It works closely with Prince Albert, Aston Tower, Manor Park and Mansfield Green primary schools, plus Aston Manor and Broadway secondary schools.
"Helping families access digital technology helps bridge the social divide," said Coun Paul Tilsley, who heads up Birmingham City Council's Digital Birmingham partnership.
"Yet a survey of Aston residents in 2004 showed that only 15 per cent of the local population had a computer, against national statistics showing that 89 per cent of children and young people studied had access to a computer at home.
"Digital technology is crucial to economic success, so initiatives such as 'Computers in the Home', which help make the technology available to all, can play a vital role in closing the social gap as well as weakening the 'digital divide'."
Aston Pride was singled out for praise by Education Minister Jim Knight in his speech at the BETT 2008 conference earlier this year, when the importance of helping communities upskill by providing digital technology in the home was a key theme in his speech.
"This partnership between local development funds and schools has resulted in hundreds of families going online. The results have been staggering."
The Computers in the Home initiative is led by Digital Birmingham and is a partnership of pupils, parents, local authority, local university, the national and local e-learning foundation, a New Deal for Communities partnership, DCSF and IT companies.