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BT Expands Programme to Help Connect Rural Communities

Press release   •   Dec 14, 2012 00:00 GMT

One year on and BT’s Connected Communities programme is rolled out into more rural communities across Northern Ireland. 

Augher, December 14, 2012 – BT has today announced the expansion of its BT Connected Communities programme into rural communities across Northern Ireland. 

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 15 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. 

Working with 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 hundreds of BT employees who are volunteering their time to support the expanding network of learning communities. 

Speaking at the launch of the expanded programme at the Clogher Valley Community Centre in Augher, Peter Morris, BT’s Director of Corporate Services said: “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. We are very fortunate in Northern Ireland to have a fantastic fibre broadband infrastructure and we at BT want to ensure that as many people as possible benefit from that. 

“Technology can enhance our lives and today we have heard the stories of how, through the programme, it is doing just that for many people like senior citizen Maire Coyle whose life has changed since she learned how to keep in touch with her family and friends in ways that she never imagined possible. And also for the famers who are now easily able to access DARD services online and the numerous people who have discovered how to use online recruitment and job services. 

“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.” 

Chris de Felice, Programme Manager at Citizens Online who work with BT to deliver the rural element of the programme commented: “We see the expansion of the BT Connected Communities programme into rural areas as great news for all the local communities involved. Regardless of what level of IT skills people have, this programme is designed to encourage people to ‘have a go’. The opportunities are endless and with ongoing support of Citizens Online and the other partner organisations, we look forward to building on the success to date and to offering even more skills sessions out in the communities in the year ahead.” 

Last year alone BT invested £1m across the island of Ireland through its corporate responsibility programme to encourage more people to get online and become part of the digital community. Information on what is planned for 2013 can be found at www.btconnectedcommunities.com 

ENDS 

For further information please contact: 
Anita Kelly - Citizens Online Project Co-ordinator - Northern Ireland 
Mob: 078 1857 3617 E: anita.kelly@citizensonline.org.uk 

For media enquiries please contact: 
Patricia Donnelly, PR Manager BT T: 028 90 214174 email patricia.donnelly@bt.com 
Or 
Lyn Sheridan, Aiken PR, 028 90 663000 email lyn@aikenpr.com 


Notes to editors: 


Case studies: 

Maire Coyle 
Senior citizen from Maydown 
Participated - The Beam centre for social economy, Maydown. 

Maire had never even turned on a computer before participating in the class at the Beam centre. After six weeks she is confident in getting online and uses her new skills to keep in regular contact with her family and friends. 
Maire commented: “Being able to use the computer has opened up a whole new world to me! Being involved in a cross border shared history project I was able to keep in contact with the other team members without having the need to travel. The volunteers on my programme were very encouraging and the one-to-one attention that I received really worked for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions, I learned a lot and I am ever so glad that I took part.” 

Shane Askin 
Farmer from Augher 
Participated - The Clogher Valley Community Centre,Augher. 

Shane commented: “I joined the sessions organised at Clogher Valley along with my mum and brother to help us all get online, improve our computer skills and even more importantly help us to manage the farm’s paperwork. The volunteers were great and there was no pressure put on anybody - it was well worth doing and I would thoroughly recommend the taster sessions to other farmers in the area”. 

About BT 

BT is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services and solutions, serving customers in more than 170 countries. Its principal activities include the provision of networked IT services globally; local, national and international telecommunications services to its customers for use at home, at work and on the move; broadband and internet products and services and converged fixed/mobile products and services. BT consists principally of four lines of business: BT Global Services, BT Retail, BT Wholesale and Openreach. 

BT was the official communications services partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and helped to deliver the most connected Games ever. BT is supporting the British Paralympic Association all the way to the Rio Games in 2016. 
In the year ended 31 March 2012, BT Group’s revenue was £18,897m with profit before taxation of £2,445m. 

British Telecommunications plc (BT) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on stock exchanges in London and New York. 
For more information, visit www.btplc.com 


BT Connected Communities