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21.09.07
actnow issues broadband challenge to voluntary and community groups in Cornwall

actnow, the pioneering Objective One project that is spearheading the growth of broadband in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, this week issues a challenge to voluntary and community groups – to propose innovative schemes that will make a difference through harnessing the power of broadband – and to take advantage of investment before time runs out.

The Rural Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Partnership has awarded investment of £99,525 to actnow to launch a new project called actnow reach, aimed at boosting broadband use in rural Cornish communities. This investment is from the South West Regional Development Agency Rural Renaissance scheme.

Bill Holliday, Manager of the Rural Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Partnership, says: "actnow reach will now enable the transformational power of broadband to be enjoyed by the wider rural community. We expect that the community and voluntary groups in Cornwall will rise to the challenge and come up with innovative schemes to introduce broadband into the heart of their communities."

The challenge has been announced by actnow Project Manager, Julian Cowans, who says that investment is expected to go fast, so urges groups to act now.

Julian says: "actnow reach is aiming to achieve a number of different targets. This includes connecting 50 voluntary and community projects to broadband as well as providing advice to at least 30 of these. Broadband can help voluntary and community projects become more effective, helping them streamline communications and improve productivity."

Frances Armstrong of the Cornwall Federation of Womens' Institutes says: "We are delighted to be receiving a rebate from actnow reach towards our broadband connection costs. This has helped make it possible for us to take advantage of broadband and all the benefits it offers in terms of speed and efficiency. Broadband makes it easier for us to communicate with members, local groups and other organisations without the frustration of the type of 'glitches' that occur with a dial-up internet connection. We are also pleased with the environmental friendliness of broadband. As a concerned, forward thinking organisation with our own Green Charter, this is an aspect that is very important to us."

Sue Guard, Director of Penwith Community Development Trust says: "The initiative is helping us to fund the development of a website for Cornwall Compact, which sets out a new approach to partnership working. We are expecting that this will contribute greatly towards raising awareness of the Compact and its relevance to the voluntary and community sector."

In addition to supporting 50 voluntary and community projects, actnow will set up three flagship community centres to promote the use of IT and is about to launch a project called Community Connect based at Liskeard School and Community College and working in partnership with Computers for Charity. This project, which will be launched at the end of September, is aiming to bring the benefits of broadband connectivity to the wider local rural community, including children and their families who do not have internet access at home.

Paul Taylor of Liskeard School and Community College says: "This initiative will help greatly in providing all the fantastic opportunities that broadband connection has to offer. We are very excited about extending the Community Connect project to all our partner primary schools and the elderly and less mobile people in our community. We have a wonderful and exciting chance to make a real difference for an absolutely minimal charge."

actnow reach is the latest initiative to be launched by actnow, the Objective One project that is led by Cornwall Enterprise and has driven the growth of broadband amongst businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, already supporting nearly 10,000 businesses to make the most of broadband technology. Nigel Ashcroft, Project Director, says: "Now our vision is to help bring the benefits of broadband to every man, woman and child in Cornwall."

Blair Thomson, Chairman of the Cornwall Strategic Partnership says: "Voluntary and community groups are at the heart of local communities across rural Cornwall. With broadband, they will be able to work more effectively and this will also act as a catalyst, helping to promote further broadband usage in their local community. We fully expect that voluntary and community groups will grasp the opportunity and show how Cornwall can lead the way in this vital area."

For more information, call Stephen Caen at actnow on 0800 800 935 or email reach@actnowcornwall.co.uk.

For further information please contact Lynn File at Brand Innovation on 07968 015731 or email lynn@brandinnovation.co.uk.

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in the actnow project through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).

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Editor's notes:

The actnow programme is a demand-led initiative to encourage businesses in Cornwall to gain the support they need to move into the broadband economy. It is one of the largest private and public sector partnerships in Cornwall since Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was granted Objective One status by the European Union in 2000.

The £20 million pound Objective One project is part financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).  Other project partners include Cornwall Enterprise, the Objective One Partnership Office, BT, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the South West of England Regional Development Agency, the Cornwall County Council, Business Link Devon and Cornwall, Cornwall College and the Rural Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Partnership.

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Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

cmorgan@cornwall.gov.uk

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