Headlines: April 5th, 2002

Dementia sufferers and kidney dialysis patients are among the older people who have experienced IT for the first time through a partnership project between Age Concern and Microsoft.Hundreds more older people will now benefit following Microsoft’s announcement of an additional hundred thousand pounds in funding to establish three new MITS (mobile internet taster sessions).

Six initial projects were launched in 2000 in Blackburn, Hampshire, North Staffordshire, Okehampton, Hereford & Worcester and Warrington in day centres, residential and care homes. The partnership will now extend the programme in Reading, Norfolk and Edinburgh.

There are a variety of MITS venues including a hospice where the computers provide mental stimulation without the need for physical activity.

For some users the emphasis can be about using technology simply for the creative activities it offers. For others it is the chance to use email, browse the web and learn new skills despite barriers which might be caused by disability, cost or geography.

The extension of the project has been welcomed by Paul Boateng, whose ministerial responsibilities extend to social exclusion initiatives.

He said it was one of the projects that was going to help the Government meet its target of universal access to the internet in the UK by 2005.