Three year Cornwall ‘get it together’ programme draws to a close having helped 2,500 people get online

Programme trained 500 people more than expected 
Superfast Cornwall has completed a three year pioneering programme, which has helped more than 2,500 people get online for the first time and develop their internet skills. The joint Get IT Together initiative between Superfast Cornwall, BT and the national charity Citizens Online easily exceeded its targets by training 500 people more than expected. 

Basic IT classes have been held across Cornwall showing beginners the basics of how to get to grips with computers. The project has also helped a number of community venues to access funding to install a broadband connection through the BT Community Connections award scheme. Complete novices have been amazed at the power of the internet, for example, learning how to use Skype to talk to distant relatives, using Ebay to clear out the attic or Ancestry.com to build up a family tree. 

One of the groups that the project has worked with is the Giving Shop in Penzance, an award winning partnership between Churches Together in Penzance Area and the Wharfside Shopping Centre. The Giving Shop has set up a regular Internet café that welcomes ‘Silver Surfers’ to learn the basics of getting online. 

David Smith, Churches Together in Cornwall Missioner, said: ‘”Having access to the Internet is becoming ever more important, and it’s essential that we support those members of our community who have yet to develop online skills. Our Internet café has proven incredibly popular as it offers a relaxed environment where Silver Surfers can learn at their own pace, whilst enjoying a cup of tea or coffee and making new friendships at the same time.” 

John Fisher, Chief Executive Officer of Citizens Online, commented: “Get IT Together - Cornwall was the first project to commence as part of the wider Get IT Together programme in the UK and it has been a great success. With the help of our project partners, we have successfully helped 2,500 learners to realise the benefits of being online.” 

John Perkins, BT Better Future programme manager, said: “We’re delighted with the way in which the Get IT Together Cornwall project has helped people to gain the digital skills and confidence to benefit from being online. The partners with whom we have worked have all played a significant part in the programme’s success, and the positive changes that have been made to the learners’ lives are testament to that collaboration.” 

Cornwall Library Service is one of many partners that have played a key role in the success of the programme. Dawn Schofield, Information and Online team leader at Cornwall Council Library Service, said: “As government services move online, libraries are providing a critical resource in enabling people to access the Internet for the first time. All our libraries have computers with fast broadband connections available for public use, so we’ve worked with Get IT Together during the past couple of years to use these facilities to set up and run our highly popular beginners computer lessons.” 

Running alongside the Get IT Together project, Superfast Cornwall has developed a network of digital volunteers that have been helping members of their community to gain confidence in developing their digital skills. The contribution of volunteers and partner organisations has been a significant factor in enabling the programme to exceed its targets. Another major driver in the success of the project has been the high level of demand for beginner’s IT training, with groups requesting support across the entire county. 

Nigel Ashcroft, Superfast Cornwall programme director for Cornwall Development Company, the economic development company of Cornwall Council, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the success of the Get IT Together project in Cornwall, and as national statistics show that nearly 20 per cent of adults in Cornwall have never used the Internet we’ll be continuing to build on this work to ensure that Superfast Cornwall provides a lasting legacy in helping to combat the very real issue of digital exclusion.” 

The £132 million Superfast Cornwall partnership between the European Union, BT and Cornwall Council has now made fibre based broadband available to over 214,000 Cornish premises – 85 per cent of the total – and aims to reach 95 per cent next year. Alternative technologies, such as satellite and advanced copper solutions, will be used to boost broadband speeds in locations where optical fibre is not currently viable. 
To see if you can place an order visit www.superfastcornwall.org. 

About the Convergence Programme 
The Superfast Cornwall Programme is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (2007 to 2013) Convergence Programme. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the managing authority for the European Regional Development Fund Programme, which is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support local businesses and create jobs. For more information visit www.gov.uk/browse/business/funding-debt/european-regional-development-funding www.convergencecornwall.com 

Project Investment: 
Up to £53.5 million of the funding is coming from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Convergence Programme, the largest ever single European investment in broadband infrastructure, whilst BT is investing up to £78.5 million. 

About Cornwall Development Company 
Cornwall Development Company Ltd is the arms length economic development company for Cornwall Council. Further information is available at www.cornwalldevelopmentcompany.co.uk.