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BT supports drive for IT skills

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Pictured at the launch are Finance Minister Simon Hamilton, Baroness Lane Fox, Chair of Go On NI and BT Chief Executive Colm O’Neill.
Emma Cowan on April 16, 2014 - 7:25 am in News

BT has confirmed its support for the Go ON NI programme launched today at the Long Gallery, Parliament Buildings in Belfast.

The programme was launched by Go ON UK, the cross-sector charity established by Baroness Lane Fox to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation. Go ON NI is designed to boost the basic online skills of every person, small business and charity across Northern Ireland and help deliver a 25 per cent reduction in the number of people who currently do not have basic online skills.

BT has a well-established digital inclusion programme, BT Connected Communities, currently working with community groups across Northern Ireland. Launched in 2011, the programme provides on-the-ground IT support and resources in a bid to tackle digital exclusion. The initiative includes ‘Get IT Together’, training courses built around the needs of older people, isolated communities and the unemployed, and is delivered in partnership with the UK charity Citizens Online.  Community groups involved in the programme include the Clogher Valley Community Centre, Augher, the Rowan Tree centre, Pomeroy as well as  Ederney and Cavanaleck in Fermanagh, and Caw, Maydown and Draperstown in County Londonderry. To date, this scheme has encouraged thousands of learners to take their first steps to get online in Northern Ireland.

Speaking at the Go ON NI launch BT Chief Executive Colm O’Neill said; “Building on the great success of our BT Connected Communities programme, we are delighted to support this latest initiative designed specifically to encourage an even greater take up of basic online skills training in Northern Ireland. We are in the fortunate position of having a world class fibre broadband network on our doorstep and at BT, we believe that we have a responsibility to not only provide access to this high speed internet technology, but to also help as many people as possible develop the skills and confidence they need to use it and fully participate in today’s digital world.”

Francis Nugent a farmer from Pomeroy attended a basic online skills course and hasn’t looked back. He said; “I read about the basic online skills training course taking place in the Rowan Tree Centre, Pomeroy and I thought I’d go along and see if they’d be able to help me use my iPad.   I’m a poultry farmer and my weekly produce information updates need to be sent online to the processing factory.  In the past I depended on my son coming home from Belfast at the weekend to do this for me.  Now with the help of the BT Connected Communities volunteers, I have gained the confidence to do this myself and much more.”

Paddy Glasgow, founder of the Glasgowbury Cornstore creative hub in Draperstown, has been a digital champion from the beginning of the roll out of the BT Connected Communities initiative in Northern Ireland.  Glasgowbury is a ‘small but massive’ force that supports and enhances creativity and has become a rural creative hub for the Connected Communities project, by enabling people to gain basic online skills in a fun relaxed environment.  Paddy has a passion for music, arts and the creative industries and is committed to support his rural community by providing on the ground access to computers and IT support so that everyone has the chance to get online.

Paddy said; “Becoming a community partner with BT Connected Communities has helped us reach out to the wider community and reduce rural isolation in our area. The ongoing support has provided our group with online access, equipment, learning resources, as well as skills training for local ‘digital champions’ and has been invaluable.  We have been able to tailor the courses to suit the interests and hobbies of participants, to show how getting online can really help with keeping in touch with family and friends, saving money and fuel by shopping online, sharing photos, music or even researching a family tree.”

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