Plymouth Launches £330,000 Get Online Programme

Date: Monday 16 December 
Time 10.15am 
Event: Launch celebration of Get IT Together at Council House, Civic Centre, Plymouth 

One of the largest projects in the UK to help people get online and build their digital skills and confidence is having its official launch in Plymouth. 

The Get IT Together project is a £330,000 initiative in the city which is part of BT’s nationwide Connected Society programme and run by the specialist digital inclusion charity Citizens Online. It helps people to gain online skills and confidence so they can benefit fully from the internet. 

The three-year project is led by the Council and has been funded by city partners including BT, Plymouth Community Homes, the Plymouth Health Community and Jobcentre Plus. 

Group sessions are already being held where people can learn at their own pace and get familiar with the internet and the opportunities it opens up. Many more are being planned for the thousands of local people who are not confident using computers and want to learn how to get online. 

Around 38,000 city homes are not yet connected to the internet and as time goes on, people risk missing opportunities for education, work, access to council and health services. 

Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council, said: “We are a co-operative council and believe in working together to help improve the lives of people in Plymouth. 

“We know that some people find computers intimidating, but we make sure they can get to grips with the basics at their own pace and see where it takes them. It could take them to new work, to considerable savings in heating their homes and using online health and welfare services. It’s the way the world is going and we want to take people with us, not leave them behind.” 

Paul Coles, Regional Programmes Manager for BT, who played a major role in the foundation of the three year Plymouth project, said: "Not being able to use the internet can leave people isolated and disadvantaged. We're committed to helping people in Plymouth get online and get the most out of the internet. This is the first exciting step in a journey to help people benefit from the online world." 

Representatives from the private, public and voluntary sectors who specialise in health, welfare benefits, education, employment and training, IT and community development will be at the event to hear how Get IT Together Plymouth is going so far and what plans are in the pipeline 

Lena Santoro, the Project Co-ordinator for Get IT Together Plymouth, will be talking about courses such as the North Prospect Community Learning, which is delivering IT courses focused around job search, and Plymouth Advice Centre for Employment, which is delivering basic IT sessions for learners. Other delivery includes sessions with Library Services and Plymouth Community Homes. 

As part of a recent Get Online Week, Get IT Together Plymouth worked with Plymouth Citizens Advice Bureau and Plympton Library to help local residents learn basic IT skills and shop online for the best deals. Learners were also shown the best ways to stay safe online as many of them had expressed concerns about online fraud. 

Lena added: “We want to get people comfortable and familiar with the technology that is now part of everyday life. We can help them get to grips with Facebook, Twitter, online shopping and see the benefits of using computers - which in turn increases their skills - painlessly!” 

Notes for editors 
For further information about this news release contact Jane Slavin or the BT Regional Press Office on 0800 085 0660. 

Get IT Together is part of BT’s Connected Society programme, spreading access to the internet and helping people to develop the skills and confidence they need to make the most of it. Using BT technology, and supported by digital inclusion initiatives, BT is working to transform people’s lives worldwide through better access to information and services to improve education, employability, health and more. At the heart of the programme is BT’s commitment to make sure more than nine out of ten people in the UK will have access to fibre based products and services by 2020. Find out more about BT’s Connected Society at www.bt.com/ConnectedSociety