Sunderland web gurus are top for online aid

MP Julie Elliot called in to St Mary's Parish Centre on Fawcett Street to congratulate Dan Makaveli and his media company which has won an award for its work with offenders. Julie is pictured with Dan and some of those who work alongside the Probation Service.

MP Julie Elliot called in to St Mary's Parish Centre on Fawcett Street to congratulate Dan Makaveli and his media company which has won an award for its work with offenders. Julie is pictured with Dan and some of those who work alongside the Probation Service.

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A MEDIA company is celebrating an award for helping others get web wise.

Web gurus Dan Makaveli and Mark McKenna took a “byte” of success when they were named Best Start Up in the North East and Yorkshire.

Their company Media Savvy scooped the gong at the inaugural Lloyds TSB Enterprise Awards, after being shortlisted from 200 applicants.

Dan, 31, and co-founder Mark, 37, impressed judges and beat off nine finalists, after they were given two minutes to pitch their work.

Set up in 2010, Media Savvy uses digital arts and media to help boost employment and works with hard-to-reach groups.

University of Sunderland graduate Dan said: “I was really surprised, because the competition was massive and we were competing against million-pound turnover businesses.”

He was able to win over the four judges with a case study of a learner who had a baby at 13 and is now in the second-year of a degree.

The firm has also teamed up with Northumbria Probation Trust and Sunderland City Council in a bid to improve the IT, literacy and numeracy skills of female offenders.

Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliot was on hand to congratulate Mark, from Hendon, and Dan, who lives in Roker.

She said: “I think it is absolutely fantastic. The woman seem to be really enjoying it. It fills them with confidence.”

Ann Visram, probation service manager for Sunderland, said: “They absolutely love it and for the first time, they are learning without realising it, making good choices and taking responsibility.”

After two successful 10-hour pilot schemes, Media Savvy has won funding from the council to run more courses.

It hopes to branch out into nationally-recognised qualifications in health, fitness, nutrition and creative arts and deliver courses through Sunderland University.

People aged 16 or over, unemployed and in receipt of a benefit could study for free, contact admin@mediasavvytrainingsolutions for more information.

Twitter: @janethejourno