Internet access is expanding rapidly across the UK but while one in two rich families have access the figure for the poorest families is one in twenty. To meet the aim of providing everyone with Internet access by 2005, initiatives have been launched to wire up communities in deprived areas and to make recycled computers available at low cost to low income families.The first pilot of the Wired up Communities initiative goes live early in the new year when some 2000 homes in Liverpool will be brought online. There will be links to the community web with access to government, job, health and education services. Families in these wired-up communities will be offered a range of ways to enhance their lives using new technology. Plans for future pilots will explore the potential for links between schools and the home, including delivery of the National Curriculum, combating absenteeism and keeping track on pupils’ progress.
The Computers Within Reach initiative aims to provide 100,000 recycled computers, together with printers and software to give Internet access to low income families. Each customer will be expected to contribute 60 pounds to the overall cost. The initiative is being run through regional consortia based on areas of need. The consortia will arrange local advertising and there will be a free national helpline run byLearndirect.