Roscadghill residents hit the net
West Cornwall estate leads community internet 'revolution'
A residents association near Penzance has spearheaded an innovative scheme to help its residents make use of the internet.
Roscadghill Area Residents Association is the driving force behind five housing estates just outside Penzance, which are home to three hundred households.
With £3000 investment through actnow reach, it will buy three laptops and hire the services of an IT trainer, to coach volunteers on local estates to become "internet eChampions". These eChampions will in turn be able to pass on their skills to others, helping more residents to take full advantage of the internet.
Chairman of the Roscadghill Area Residents Association Ted Clemens says: "By training up volunteers to pass on their skills, we are creating a self-sustaining project that will carry on well into the future. The volunteer eChampions will run drop-in sessions to open people's eyes to what IT and the internet can offer, focusing on interesting and relevant uses. For example, we will cover areas like digital photography, family tree research, eBay and online shopping."
The scheme has been funded through actnow reach, the pioneering broadband project led by Cornwall Enterprise, which has been one of the most successful projects under the Objective One Programme in Cornwall and is supported by BT and the Rural Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Partnership.
Jane Shipway, a member of BT's South West Regional Board, said: "Our support for this exciting project is an important part of BT's campaign to make the internet more accessible to everybody. Millions of people in the UK are missing out on the huge benefits offered by the internet, often because of lack of knowledge and a fear of technology. It is vital for these individuals and for a UK economy increasingly focused on internet technology that they get online. Otherwise, they will find themselves increasingly at a disadvantage."
In 2005, Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Change (CN4C) supported the Residents Association to purchase and convert two portable buildings and landscape the surrounding wasteland to create a community centre equipped with BT wireless broadband.
They have since used the centre to run courses through Link Into Learning and CN4C to help build IT and internet skills on the estate, as well as other training courses such as Food Hygiene.
Stuart Thompson of CN4C said: "The development of the community centre has proven crucial to the work and aspirations of Roscadghill Area Residents Association. The actnow reach grant will provide additional resources for the community of Roscadghill so that they can expand their computer based learning for people of all ages from local estates."
As well as internet drop-in sessions, the next phase by the Residents Association will include an after-schools club for children as well as an IT club in the school holidays.
Bill Holliday of the Rural Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Partnership says: "It is very exciting to see how the community IT project at Roscadghill has created such momentum and keeps moving forward. This is a great example of a community project using the power of IT and the internet to improve people's lives in rural areas."
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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), and in Cornwall Neighbourhoods for Changes' Impact in Communities project through the European Social Fund (ESF).
The actnow programme has helped over 10,000 businesses in Cornwall make the most of broadband technology. A demand-led initiative to encourage businesses in Cornwall to gain the support they need to move into the broadband economy, actnow has been 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 has been 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 have included 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 Rural Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Partnership.
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