BT Press Releases

DC11-278                                                                                                    November 29, 2011

BT helps North East community groups to get digital

Fourteen community groups and charities across the North East have been given the chance to help people in their community to get online and discover the incredible benefits of the internet.

BT has awarded these groups, ranging from scout groups and pre-school groups to family and community centres, one year’s free broadband through its Community Connections Award Scheme.

The successful scheme has helped connect around 610 winners to the internet in the region since it was launched in 2002. Many groups in the region including silver surfers, cultural groups, family support groups, arts groups and youth clubs, who are often in areas of deprivation and digital exclusion, have been able to surf the internet and engage with the online world for the first time.

BT’s Community Connections scheme directly addresses the lack of internet access amongst community groups in the UK and is part of BT’s Get It Together programme, which is all about instilling confidence and empowering people to get online. Over 20 per cent of people in the North East have never used the internet and they are at risk of missing out on access to vital services that are quickly moving online. This award scheme helps people to reach these critical services which include education resources, important medical information and financial advice.

Chris Sayers, BT’s North East regional director, said: “Many of the people we are supporting with this award are from disadvantaged areas and will benefit significantly from free broadband.

“The most common factor preventing people from using the internet is lack of confidence, with many saying they would go online if someone were to show them how. This is just one of the various steps we are taking to help everyone enter the digital world.”

The judges, who included representatives from Race Online 2012, AbilityNet, UK Online Centres, Common Purpose, Charity Technology Trust and Business in the Community, were impressed by the diversity of groups applying for this award and how they intend to encourage and teach others to get online.

Richard Craig, from Charity Technology Trust, said: “This award provides community and voluntary groups with the chance to take the fear away from using the internet and shows others how easy it can be to change someone’s life. The internet opens the door to so many opportunities and it is really inspirational to read about how much commitment and hard work is taking place within our communities to try and get more people online.”

To find out more about the BT Community Connections awards scheme simply call 0845 257 6792 or log on to http://www.bt.com.communityconnections.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

A full list of all winners of the BT Community Connections Award in the North East is below:
• Birtley Community Association, Chester Le Street, County Durham
• Consett Churches Detached Youth Project, Consett, County Durham
• Darlington CVS t/a Evolution, Darlington, County Durham
• Digital Community Youth Limited, Blyth, Northumberland
• Durham City Centre Youth Project, Durham, County Durham
• Dynamix Extreme, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear
• Fenham Association of Residents, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Tyne and Wear
• Glastonbury House Management Committee, Middlesbrough, Cleveland
• Leading Link Ltd, Bedlington, Northumberland
• Learning Choices (Northumberland) Ltd, Alnwick, Northumberland
• Learning Choices Blyth Office, Blyth, Northumberland
• Learning Choices, Berwick-Upon-Tweed, Northumberland
• Shildon Peoples Centre, Shildon, County Durham
• Shotton IT Resource Centre (Shotton Partnership 2000 Ltd), Durham, County Durham

For further information please contact the BT Community Connections Press Office on 0845 257 6792 or the regional BT press office on 0800 085 0660.

BT Community Connections
• The award scheme is targeted at community and charitable groups in areas of deprivation with little or no internet connection.
• This year sees 270 community and voluntary groups winning the award in the UK.
• The BTCC award is 12 months’ free Total Business Broadband or Infinity connection.

BT and Get IT Together
BT is at the heart of digital communications. We believe that information communications technology can make a real difference to individuals and communities that find themselves on the wrong side of the ‘digital divide’.
BT’s Get IT Together programme is all about empowering people to get online - making the most of what the internet has to offer. As an official partner of Race Online 2012, BT has pledged its support to help get another 100,000 people online by the end of 2012 as well as encourage and enable at least 10,000 people to become 'Digital Champions', helping and inspiring others to get online. For more information, visit www.bt.com/getittogether

BT has been helping people to get online since 2002. Last year, BT invested money, time and in-kind contributions worth £27.6 million in programmes that ranged from supporting BT volunteers working in schools and community organisations to helping disadvantaged children in India escape poverty and become part of the digital society. This exceeded our target to invest at least one per cent of underlying pre-tax profits in community programmes and sustainability.