Making computers easier
Green help for the terminally shy
In the city that invented the world's first computer, the green shoots of an IT revolution are beginning to show. Those shoots belong to green h, a unique Manchester initiative to help the computer shy get up and running.
From shopping online to e-mail: computers and the Internet have become such a part of the fabric of modern society, it’s difficult to imagine life without them.
But Des Gregory, founder of green h computers, is convinced that thousands of people are suffering in silence and are struggling with their PC or laptop.
"What we've found is that for most home users, the problems really start when they get it home," he said.
"And if you want to get someone to come out and help you, you could quite easily spend £600 on the PC and then another £600 for their time over the next 12 months."
What green h claims to offer is a new or recycled PC, complete with tailor-made software and support for half the price of a computer bought on the high street.
Uniquely, the package also includes an expert to install the PC in your home, connect you to the Internet, along with three home visits in the first year.
It’s not just for when things go wrong either - green h says it will also offer help and basic training in tasks as getting pictures off a digital camera, modifying and emailing them, using spreadsheets, sharing files etc.
"The service aspect is by far and away the most important part," added Des.
"What we've done is to build in that support as part of the deal. So it includes four hours of home support at £30 a time: 1 hour plugging it in and getting it working and three hours of call out time."
But green h is more than just another household PC provider: it's something of a social enterprise with a stated aim to provide community organisations with affordable computers and the skills to use them.
Inspiration: the Unicorn co-operative
From its humble beginnings in Chorlton-cum-Hardy - half a dozen people working part-time - Des is hoping to sow the seeds of an IT movement that can sustain itself and which allows its staff to become stakeholders in the company's future.
By the end of 2009, Des believes that the green h concept will be operating as a franchise in four regions across the country, helping to develop schools, communities, housing associations, small businesses and charities and providing training.
His inspiration came in part from the Unicorn, a workers' co-operative in Chorlton where he lives. The organic grocery now has a green h computer on the shop floor for customers to browse its website.
Leah DeQuattro of the Unicorn’s IT team said they chose green h, partly because it was local, but also because of the support it offered.
"They've given us a lot of help," she said. "We knew what we wanted. But Des showed us how to set up the PC and make sure that it did exactly what we wanted it to."
last updated: 28/04/2009 at 11:43