Funds will keep Blitz running until summer

thisisoxfordshire: Project manager Jayne Watson with Edmund Faria Project manager Jayne Watson with Edmund Faria

A group offering free computer advice to residents in Blackbird Leys, Oxford, has been given a temporary reprieve.

But councillors have warned that the Blackbird Leys Information Technology Zone, or Blitz, still faces an uncertain future if a new funding arrangement is not found. Blitz has been running from the Leys Community Centre since 2002.

It offers free courses for people to improve their IT skills, helps them with job hunting and CV writing, and offers drop-in sessions for those without computers at home.

In February, the group’s organisers made a desperate plea for funding in the Oxford Mail.

Project manager Jayne Watson said: “It would be very sad if it closed, as it is one of the most important community services on Blackbird Leys.”

Funding was set to run out in July but city councillors from the estate have each donated £500, which will enable Blitz to stay open until next year.

Northfield Brooke city councillor Steve Curran said: “The situation is that the city council has been funding it in terms of rent. Now there has been an application for a job club at the community centre. “So we will fund Blitz until the end of July and hopefully then Blitz and the job club can work together.”

Blitz was initially funded by Oxfordshire County Council but when local authority funding dried up, it was taken over by volunteers.

The hub has 12 computers and runs five weekly classes for 50 students, with four drop-in sessions. The services it offers range from courses for complete beginners through to advanced classes offering NVQ-equivalent training.

At the Blackbird Leys Parish Council meeting on Tuesday, Mr Curran told councillors he was not sure how much longer the organisation would remain open.

He said: “Blitz is in danger of closing. I think it’s a good facility – if we could keep it going until next summer that would be really good.”

The Oxford Mail was last night unable to contact a spokesman from Blitz.

A fun day with information about groups at the centre will be held today from noon-4pm.

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