Internet for all scheme picks up top award

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A PROJECT to introduce the internet to communities across South Yorkshire has won a prestigious local government award.

Making IT Personal: Joining the DOTs is a scheme supported by Sheffield College, led by Barnsley Council, and backed by the county’s other three local authorities.

It won a major category in the Local Government Yorkshire and Humber’s Making A Difference awards announced this month.

The plan has been to tackle the problem of digital exclusion – where a lack of communication and technology skills, including internet use, can hold back people’s career opportunities and personal lives.

It has been estimated up to 30 per cent of the South Yorkshire population has never been online and miss out because they are frightened of, shy away from, do not have access to, or do not understand the relevance of technology to their lives.

The scheme revolved around the training of digital outreach trainers – DOTs – to act as mentors.

DOTs are volunteers with an interest in technology who want to pass on their knowledge and skills, and help others.

So far 600 DOTs have been trained, including students at Sheffield College, and an estimated 4,000 people have been mentored.

Those previously missing out have now learned how to access the internet for social media, price comparison websites, online shopping, selling goods and filling forms online, downloading music, working a digital camera and uploading photos.

Students have typically gone on to teach family, neighbours and other learners.