Barnsley community project recognised with national award

Judges praise BT-backed project in Barnsley bringing the internet to the heart of the community 

A BT-supported digital inclusion project in Barnsley, which helps locals people reap the benefits of being online, has come runner up in a national competition.

The Get IT Together Barnsley project was named the joint runner-up in this year’s Digital Unite Spring Online Best Event Awards, which celebrate outstanding work by local volunteers and organisations.

Barnsley’s winning project, Get IT Together Barnsley saw them partnering with Berneslai Homes to host a Digital Tea Party. More than 70 local people had the opportunity to use the internet, set up e-mail accounts, learn how to shop online, followed by tea and cake with the Mayor. A special ‘twitter station’ staffed by enthusiastic volunteers and previous learners helped to generate a social media buzz on the day.

Hundreds of organisations took part in Spring Online, holding free digital taster events across the UK to encourage local people – particularly older people – to take their first steps with digital technology. Nine organisations around the UK were recognised in the Awards, run by the digital inclusion charity Digital Unite.

Barnsley Get IT Together project co-ordinator Alison Vint accepted the top award from TV celebrity Angela Rippon during an awards ceremony at the City Hall in London.

Alison said: “Our Digital Tea Party was a great success and we hope to make it an annual event to encourage more Barnsley residents to get online in a relaxed setting in the company of previous learners and our enthusiastic project team.”

Donna Flavell, who lives in Thurnscoe near Barnsley is one of those who have benefitted from the scheme. She said: “I'm using computers much more and I now feel confident in searching and sending emails- I've even used the internet to apply for a job. It's just not that frightening anymore and I'm encouraging my family and friends to get online.'

Tom Keeney, BT’s regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “It’s fantastic news that the Get IT Together project in Barnsley has won this award, reflecting their hard work. BT is delighted to support projects like this one, helping people to enjoy the benefits of being online.”

Dick Stroud of Digital Unite said: “A fantastic range of individuals and organisations were involved in the campaign this year. It’s clear that Spring Online remains as vital as ever to bridge the digital divide, to help people make the most of technology and enhance their daily lives.”

Get IT Together in Barnsley is supported by BT’s Better Future Connected Society programme, in partnership with Citizens Online with part of the work in Barnsley also supported by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.
Connected Society is BT’s commitment to help people around the world gain the access skills motivation and confidence they need to get connected.

The Get IT Together programme has co-ordinators in projects across the UK and has now helped more than 16,000 people, through its courses, to gain confidence and get connected. These locally-run short courses mainly support older people, people with disabilities or unemployed people.

Berneslai Homes Digital Inclusion officer, Matt Lowe, said: “It’s great that we’ve been recognised nationally for our work getting people online. We’d encourage anyone to get in touch and find out more about the courses and events we are running.”

John Fisher, chief executive of Citizens Online, concluded: “The local co-ordinators work so hard to support people new to the internet and this is well-deserved recognition for their efforts. Their projects make such a difference on the ground.”
For more information visit www.digitalunite.com/spring-online


Notes to editors

Better Future is BT’s commitment to use the power of communications to improve lives and ways of doing business – without it costing the earth. Better Future embeds responsible and sustainable business practice to build real growth and is rooted in what BT does best – bringing together our networks and technology with the expertise of our people to make a better world. Our Better Future programme focuses on three areas, connecting people digitally (Connected Society), using our skills and technology to help society support good causes (Improving Lives), and ensuring BT makes a net positive contribution to the environment (Net Good). For more information see www.bt.com/betterfuture

BT develops products and services to help everyone use technology, regardless of their
age, background or ability. Collaboration with external disability experts and
other organisations helps BT to better understand the issues our customers face,
and improves our ability to respond.

About Citizens Online
Citizens Online is a national charity that believes participation in the digital world is a fundamental part of modern life. It is our aim to ensure that the benefits of digital technologies can be enjoyed and shared by everybody, so that our society may become more inclusive and just. Further information is available at www.citizensonline.org.uk