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People in local communities who are least likely to be online either at home or work could soon be surfing the net ...
People in local communities who are least likely to be online either at home or work could soon be surfing the net and emailing from projects throughout the UK. Computer learning projects in libraries and local centres are being supported by£10,655,113 of lottery funding from the New Opportunities Fund.

The New Opportunities Fund is a National Lottery distributor of good causes money. With£5.7m today going to a further 48 projects, this lifelong learning programme has now allocated over£77m to around 830 computer learning projects.

At the same time, almost£5m is going to 16 library services in the UK and increasing the number of computers for users as part of the People's Network. This is linking every public library in the UK to the Internet and the National Grid for Learning, making the technology more accessible to local communities.

Stephen Dunmore, the New Opportunities Fund's chief executive said: 'For those people who have been excluded from even basic computer technology skills through disadvantage, this money will provide local access to the wealth of information that is out there and that many of us take for granted.'

On the west side of the Isle of Wight, the West Wight nursery training project in Totland Bay has been awarded£50,000. This will offer an open IT facility to the community. The centre runs two minibuses to save users from other villages the high rural bus fares. There will be special software for young people to mix and record music. The users may be young mothers who are disillusioned with school or college but are keen to learn about a subject that interests them.

The project chair, Sylvia Richards, said: 'This project will give the community a facility they haven't got. They can get onto the first rung of the learning ladder. People can choose what they want to do and therefore become IT literate in a simple way. They get a start, and to do more interesting things they then find they need to develop further skills - so they take it further. This is a gentle and soft approach to learning, and it works.'

A New Opportunities Fund allocation of£827,138 will enable Somerset CC to install over 300 new computers in its 34 libraries. Library users will have free access to the internet on a broadband fast loading system and to word-processing and spreadsheet facilities at all libraries.

Paddy MacMaster, from the council, is delighted with the news of the grant: 'The opportunity presented by this award is a tremendous boost for the development of public access to electronic services in a predominantly rural county with a widely dispersed population. It reinforces the central role that libraries have in our communities to provide free access to information to all citizens.'

Up in the North West, Manchester gets£609,470 for the city's libraries from the latest round of People's Network Funding. The library network will be upgraded to a broadband network providing a wide range of multimedia facilities. The batch of new computers for libraries across the city will take the total of library-based PCs to over 500.

Many more Manchester residents will now have the opportunity to learn how they can use the Internet. Manchester Library already has a growing contingent of 'silver surfers' and courses will be developed for other groups, including the city's many ethnic communities.

Glynn Evans, executive member for culture and leisure in Manchester, said: 'We can now enable people to learn in their own community and use their local library as a conduit to wider opportunities. This grant covers every ward in Manchester. In a city that contains some of the most deprived wards in the country, this project will support and add value to wider activity including community development, lifelong learning, regeneration and the local economy.'

The People's Network is managed by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries. Chris Batt, director of the Libraries and Information Society Team at Resource, commented: 'Today's announcement marks a very important step towards the roll-out of the People's Network across the UK. It underlines the vital role these initiatives are playing in widening access to ICT for all citizens, regardless of local and personal circumstances.'

Today's distribution of funding to projects by the New Opportunities Fund across the UK is:


RegionNo of projects£ grantsNo of libraries£ allocation


East Midlands8£413,158£413,158


North East7£794,5901£72,556£867,146

North West11£1,685,5683£1,306,007£2,991,575

South East1£50,0001£322,874£372,874

South West5£214,2021£827,138£1,041,340

West Midlands

Yorks & Humber

ALL England total41£5,170,4169£3,032,837£8,203,253

N Ireland4£195,676£195,676



UK total48£5,704,76816£4,950,345£10,655,113


New Opportunities Fund press office: 020 7211 1888

Press office out-of-hours mobile: 07867 500 572

Public enquiries line: 0845 0000 121

Full details of the New Opportunities Fund programmes and grant awards are available on our website.


Today, the allocation for computer community projects is£5,170,416 in England. This covers 36 projects to set up UK online centres, jointly funded by the New Opportunities Fund and the Department for Education and Skills, and five projects solely funded by the New Opportunities Fund. The UK total to date of money spent on this programme in the UK by the New Opportunities Fund is£77,692,261 for 830 projects

Today, the total allocation for the People's Network in England is£3,032,837; with£838,054 being allocated in Scotland and£1,079,454 in Wales, the UK total is£4,950,345. Out of 210 library authorities, over 157 have had allocations approved and around£72m has been allocated to specific library authorities for computer technology. Today's authorities in England are: Southend£239,434; Lambeth£243,062; Upper Norwood£21,766; Darlington£72,556; Manchester£609,470; Rochdale£373,663; St Helen's£322,874; Isle of Wight£322,874; and Somerset£827,138.

The People's Network is a comprehensive programme of public ICT provision coordinated by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, a strategic agency working with museums, archives and libraries across the UK.

Under a separate programme,£20m is funding the training of public librarians in ICT.


The New Opportunities Fund distributes National Lottery money to health, education and environment projects across the UK. We support sustainable projects that will:

- improve the quality of life of people throughout the UK;

- address the needs of those who are most disadvantaged in society;

- encourage community participation;

- complement relevant local and national strategies and programmes.

Funding for programmes is divided between England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on the basis of population weighted to reflect levels of deprivation.



The programme uses£100m to support the development and running of a network of information and communications technology (ICT) learning centres with online computer access for adults. To date (including projects covered by this announcement) over£77m has been awarded to 830 UK projects.£100m has been set apart for the People's Network which is putting computer technology into public libraries. The People's Network is a comprehensive programme of public ICT provision co-ordinated by Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, a strategic agency working with museums, archives and libraries. Resource has three main objectives, to provide strategy, advocacy and advice. The organisation undertakes work in all three of these areas to improve the context in which museums, archives and libraries operate and to improve services for users and potential users. Resource provides expert advice and guidance on the development and implementation of the New Opportunities Fund Digitisation of Learning Materials Programme as part of its work with the Fund on the management of the People's Network project.

ICT TRAINING launched 1999

£230m for ICT training for teachers and school librarians;£20m

for ICT training for public library staff.


More than 150 grants have been awarded by the Fund through its£50 million digitisation programme. A range of national, regional and local organisations are now developing a rich and imaginative range of electronic learning materials and information reflecting cultural heritage and community wealth and diversity UK-wide, which will support lifelong learning.

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