B4RN’s very own Jorj (centre) with the winners, Knowledge Pool

B4RN was very proud to attend the Digital Leader Awards at the Shard in London.

Although the volunteer-run Computer Club didn’t win the Craig MacDonald Memorial Prize, we would like to thank all the people who voted for us, and we made the final three!

The ‘computer’ Club was started in 2005, and was instrumental in raising digital awareness in a rural area, working with Lancaster University. This project led to the formation of a team who went on to build wireless networks and then fibre – which led to B4RN becoming fact instead of just dreams. The club has always been run by a team of volunteers, currently there are: Pat, Patrick, Anne, Chris, Ali, Ray, Phil and Hugh.

The club was originally held in village halls, people’s houses and for a few months was held in a cow shed at Perrymoor farm, for a special ‘ladies only’ session.

When B4RN got their own premises with enough space, the Club migrated there, and for many years it was held every Friday, with volunteers helping the new customers with email changes, VoIP, Wi-Fi issues and refurbishing old equipment to give it a new lease of life.

Our Jorj caught up with former BBC tech reporter Rory Cellan Jones

With Covid, the Club moved to Zoom meetings, and more customers have been helped, but it is also a social occasion where people can touch base over the miles.

The club lent out equipment for people to try before they buy anything, and they are shown how it works. From the early days when it was just to learn about computers it has now grown to cover tablets, smart phones, IP care alarms, security cameras, VoIP, Wi-Fi propagation and many more issues the modern customer faces.

Everyone enjoys the Alexa workshops where customers and volunteers all learn new things, and they all share the things learned with their communities, friends and families. The whole ethos is that if you learn something, you pass it on.

The club also runs a very active Facebook group. They are hoping shortly to be able to meet again in person, and the Norfolk group are planning on starting their own drop in sessions soon. Several of the more experienced volunteers also can give advice on Raspberry Pi, automation, pi holes and very geeky stuff if any customers want to start an adventure. The Zoom meetings let them hive off into different rooms for specialist chats. The club is making the most of the wonderful connection B4RN has given everyone.