Helping people get online – and keeping them there!

Finalist category: Youth Award 2014

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Winner, Youth Award, 2014

Ryan McMurdo is head of IT drop-in sessions for Startpoint, supporting over 1,000 learners get online and, more importantly, stay online each year.

At 16 he took a part-time job at the chip shop to fund his aspirations to follow his girlfriend at the time to Italy, where she was performing with the school orchestra. Two years later he swiftly left university after one term, preferring to enter the world of work and leaving the academic world behind him. He became a manager at Startpoint, when they had just one attendee, and within three months numbers increased to 30 and they were running three sessions a week. At the age of 20 Ryan applied for funding to host more computer clubs throughout Stockport, and by 2013 he had set up 14 sessions, supporting 1,000 people.

Ryan has taken technology-based learning to a new level, showing that it isn’t just emails that are important to learners – he has supported a learner who had suffered three heart attacks, helping them to navigate his way around endless health sites, avoiding scary, unofficial messages along the way. He has helped food bank users and those in sheltered housing to find new recipe ideas online, and is currently working with children from the same estate that he lives. The #hackstockport project introduces Makey, Lego Mindstorm, Tablet PCs, Raspberry Pi and Scratch to any child or family that wants to get involved throughout August. For Ryan, technology has the ability to tackle some of the social issues he sees in his community on a daily basis, and being 23 years old he feels he has the energy and knowledge to start to bring about positive change.

Ryan is now planning on returning to University in Brighton, whilst working and living in Stockport, once again utilising technology to keep up with his weekly seminars. He’s also collaborating with the Tinder Foundation on a project that supports young people when it comes to money – intended to reach them before money-loaning organisations do.

Find out more at the Startpoint website.

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AbilityNet Tech4Good Awards are organised by AbilityNet and BT and supported by a range of sponsors and partners.