Digital technologies have the potential to improve people’s lives. Access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) can open doors to education, jobs, entertainment and personal contacts.
BT Connected Communities is a Get IT programme for BT’s business across the island of Ireland and our flagship Better Future initiative. The programme takes a grass roots community level approach to helping others get online and learn new skills.
In December 2012 we celebrated the expansion of the programme into rural areas of Northern Ireland in partnership with Citizens Online, and which now sees us supporting 16 community organisations.
The major initiative, which was launched in a number of cities and towns in 2011 to establish on-the-ground IT support and resources in a bid to tackle online social exclusion, now supports 16 community groups across the island. Among the Northern Ireland groups that are benefiting from the expansion into rural communities are the Clogher Valley Community Centre, Rowan Tree Centre in Pomeroy, Centres in Ederney, Irvinestown and Enniskillen in Fermanagh, The Gasyard, Caw, Maydown and Draperstown in county Londonderry. The community groups involved from pilot stage include, Ashton Centre, Belfast; Greater Shankill Partnership; The Gasyard Centre, Derry City; Ringsend & Irishtown Community Centre, Dublin; St Michael’s Regeneration Group, Dublin; the EPIC programme in Dublin (Employment for People from Immigrant Communities) and Moyross Community Enterprise Centre, Limerick.
Working with these leading community groups, BT is investing not only in the technology and the fibre infrastructure in each of the community centres but is also making available many of BT employees who are volunteering their time to support the expanding network of learning communities.
The aim of the BT Connected Communities programme is to reduce the potential for people to feel excluded or disadvantaged due to advancements in technology. Northern Ireland is very fortunate to have a fantastic fibre broadband infrastructure and we at BT want to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from that.
We have come a long way since the launch of the BT Connected Communities programme just over one year ago. To date more than 3,500 participants have benefited from access to skills training, support and the technology and we anticipate that numbers will grow year on year.
BT works with Business in the Community Ireland and their Employment for People for Immigrant Communities, (EPIC). EPIC is a programme to help equip parents of foreign nationals for the workplace and help them gain employment. A key component of this programme is training in ICT and how to get the best from the internet, for example, email; shopping and word-processing. BT support the ICT element through a dedicated training programme delivered at EPIC’s premises in Dublin city centre. The overall programme is funded by the Irish Department of Integration.
BT Community Connections enables community and voluntary groups get online and make the best use of information and communication technology (ICT). The scheme helps community and voluntary organisations extend their work through the use of the internet and ICT by awarding pc’s and an internet connection, where they don't already have the means. BT Community Connections has been running in Northern Ireland for 4 years, with more than 400 community groups receiving awards, and this its 5th year we extended the programme into the Republic of Ireland awarding almost 50 groups with an internet package. Why not encourage your local community group or charity to apply?
RNIB in partnership with BT are giving over 2,000 blind and partially sighted people in Northern Ireland an opportunity to stay connected through a free monthly audio magazine called, ‘Sound Vision Ulster’.
The radio show-style magazine includes anything from hard-hitting human interest stories to more light-hearted lifestyle issues, with news, competitions, music, events, entertainment and much more to keep its many listeners entertained. The magazine is recorded, edited then mastered to tape, CD and downloadable MP3 format. RNIB are also a Try Before You Buy centre for BT’s inclusion products. For more information visit www.bt.com/inclusion
Find out more at the RNIB website
BT and Disability Action have a strong partnership that enables both organisations to take advantage of the synergies that exist in both operations in terms of their commitment to best practice and meeting customer needs. Equally important, the support of BT will allow Disability Action to raise vital funds and promote its work across Northern Ireland. BT’s goal is to use enhanced communications and technology to help create a better and more sustainable community for everyone. Our support for Disability Action will take various forms ranging support for their biannual Gala Ball to in-kind support and volunteering support from our employees.or employees.