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News: Learning Opportunity For Young People.

Monday, 1st March 2004
(PR 1139)

Young people will be able to communicate at the touch of a button thanks to a £380,000 investment in 17 ICT learning centres.

Lancashire County Council's Youth and Community service has joined forces with principal funders the Northwest Development Agency's North West Broadband Fund, the Rural Development Fund under the Lancashire Rural Recovery Action Plan and the East Lancashire partnership thourgh its Enterprising Rural Communities Programme to provide funding for the centres which will open across the whole of the county in community venues and schools.

The centres are being created to develop community use of ICT Broadband resources for personal and social education, to reduce social exclusion and break down the "digital divide" between families who can and cannot afford the resources at home.

Many of the centres are being set-up in rural areas as on-line resources and the services they increasingly provide can be limited due to difficulties because of geographical isolation.

Some rural communities struggle to access Broadband resources even on a private payment basis.

The new centres will be launched on Monday March 8 by a live link-up between young people at Longridge and Kirkham youth and community centres.

The two groups of teenagers, who are all regulars at their respective youth and community centres, will be communicating on the same internet project simultaneously to show the potential for Broadband facilities in rural communities.

Lancashire County Council's Leader, CC Hazel Harding, who will be attending the Longridge side of the link-up, said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for young people to not just communicate easily with their colleagues on the other side of Lancashire, but on the other side of the world in just a matter of minutes.

"Lancashire has many rural communities who can have problems in accessing email and internet access and these centres will make a tremendous difference for young people who will be able to make the most of the technology for personal as well as educational use."

Head of ICT Policy at the NWDA, Kevin Morley, said:

"We are extremely pleased to support this worthwhile project which will make a huge impact on young people in these rural communities.

"This scheme will create new opportunities for them, not only in terms of improving their skills levels, but also their personal development.

"The NWDA will continue to work hard to invest in the growth and development of broadband ensuring that the region's communities are able to grasp the new opportunities it presents."

Rural and Tourism Director for the East Lancashire Partnership, Janet Mitton, said:

"This is an excellent project and we are delighted to be able to help fund it.

"Bringing the internet and broadband services to rural communities is absolutely vital and will be particularly welcomed by young people.

"It is also yet another example of collaborative working across east and west Lancashire."

Notes for editors:

Reporters and photographers are welcome to attend the launch event on Monday March 8, 3.30pm at either Longridge youth and community centre in Berry Lane or the Kirkham Drop-In Centre which is in Poulton Street.

Funding for the project has been provided by:

NWDA's North West Broadband Fund £117,422

National Grid for Learning £12,060

Lancashire County Council Youth and Community £80,000

Enterprising Rural Communities (East Lancashire Partnership) £26,952

Rural Development Programme £73,385

Transforming Youth Work Development Fund (Government fund) £50,000

The Lancashire Rural Recovery Action Plan is a dedicated funding programme for Lancashire to aid the sustainable regeneration of the rural economy.

The Action Plan was formulated by the Lancashire Rural Partnership which is a partnership between the public, private and voluntary sectors set-up to bring more resources to rural Lancashire.

The learning centres will open at:

Barton Road Youth and Community Centre, Lancaster

Milton St. Youth and Community Centre, Fleetwood

Longridge Youth and Community Centre

Kirkham Drop-In

Star Youth Club, Preston

Moor Nook Youth and Community Centre, Preston

Double Bridge Youth and Community Centre, Leyland

The Grove, Burscough Youth and Community Centre, West Lancs

Garstang Youth and Community Centre, Wyre

Eccleston Youth and Community Centre, Chorley

Oswaldtwistle Youth and Community Centre, Hyndburn

Stoops and Hargher Clough Youth and Community Centre, Burnley

Earby Youth and Community Centre, Pendle

Centre 515, Whitworth, Rossendale

Waddecar Scout Camp, Beacon Fell Country Park

Wilsons Endowed Primary School, Over Kellet, Lancaster

Caldervale Primary School, Wyre

For further information please contact: Jane Bullock on 01772 533521

jane.bullock@css.lancscc.gov.uk


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