BT and Barclays join up to increase digital inclusion with free Wi-fi in libraries

More than 70 libraries and community centres included 

BT and Barclays today announced that they have teamed up to provide free wi-fi and hands on digital support at libraries and community centres in deprived areas across England. 

The innovative community programme will see Wi-fi provided to 57 libraries and 13 community centres across the country. A further 10 sites, including a care home, a charity home and a homeless centre will also be provided with free wi-fi. Further sites will be announced at a later date. 

Barclays Digital Eagles, specially trained members of Barclays staff who provide free technology advice to customers and non-customers alike will work at the new Wi-fi sites to help local people build confidence and develop the skills they need to succeed in the digital world. 

Libraries and community centres are the heartbeat of many communities and free internet access combined with expert support will help the many people still not online. 

In the UK some 18 per cent of the adult population have never been online and this increases to 60 per cent for those over 65 years old. With so many opportunities from education, interacting with friends and job opportunities to government and health services all available online, it has never been more vital for people to start their digital journey. 

Anna Easton, head of BT's connected society programme, said: "At BT we believe in the power of communication to make a better world. We want to ensure that everyone can not only access the digital world, but also have the skills and support they need to stay online in the long term.

"An evaluation of our existing digital inclusion programmes shows that for the elderly and unemployed, both access and long term support in the community is essential. This new partnership with Barclays will ensure that support is available for those that need it the most" 

Steven Roberts, Strategic Transformation Director at Barclays, commented: 

"Across the country, people are experiencing the digital revolution, but like all revolutions, it's not one that happens to all people at once. Some will adopt digital skills quickly, others will take more time."

"At Barclays we firmly believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind on the digital journey and through this significant partnership with BT, we can ensure that even more people have access to the services and support they need to embrace the digital revolution." 

BT and Barclays have both committed to support the implementation of the government's digital inclusion strategy which aims to reduce the number of people offline in the UK by 25 per cent by 2016. Find out more about the Government Digital Strategy and the UK Digital Inclusion Charter