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 were launched by a live video link-up between young people at Longridge and Kirkham youth and community centres.
The groups of young people, who are all regulars at their respective youth and community centres, shared ideas on a film project which had been put together at Longridge.
"I'm A Longridge Celebrity Get Me out of Here!" was put together using the new technology at the youth club and involved the young people learning state-of-the-art video and ICT skills.
Longridge High School pupils Siobhan Eidsforth and Charlotte Smith, both aged 12, took part in the live link-up.
The two youngsters attend the Longridge youth club for dance classes and use the internet facilities to help them with their homework.
"I don't have the internet at home, so I love using it here.
"We enjoyed taking part in the live link-up. We showed the Kirkham young people footage from the "Celebrity Get Me out of Here" film and they had lots of questions and wanted to take part in our next project which will be based on Pop Idol."
Lancashire County Council's Leader, CC Hazel Harding, 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:
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