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Culture Minister Ed Vaizey joins launch of BT and Barclays free community wi-fi initiative

DC15-295 (22 July 2015)

Nunhead Library joins 100 libraries and community centres nationwide to provide free Wi-Fi access: Increasing digital inclusion as part of a new BT and Barclays’ initiative

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, visited Nunhead Library, today as it announced its inclusion in a new BT and Barclays initiative to bring free Wi-Fi and hands-on digital support to the community of Nunhead. As one of 100 UK centres taking part in the initiative, this will provide online access to a broader cross-section of Southwark.

Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey said: "It is very important for libraries to continually modernise themselves to meet the needs of the communities they serve - initiatives like this one will help them take a big step in doing so. As more services become available online then increasingly libraries and other community spaces will be the place to go for people who don’t have the access or the confidence to use digital services. The presence of a member of staff or volunteer to help people navigate this digital space is invaluable and is one of the key things that libraries and other community spaces involved in this project have over other places that also offer Wi-Fi."

Nunhead Library is a valued learning and meeting space for the local community and free internet access, combined with expert support, will open up opportunities that being online has to offer. BT will support the set-up of free Wi-Fi connectivity while BT Digital Friends and Barclays Digital Eagles, specially trained members of Barclays’ staff, will provide free technology advice to help local people build confidence and develop the skills they need to succeed in the digital world.

In the UK some 11 per cent of the adult population have never been online and this increases to 61 per cent for those over 75 years old. With so many opportunities from education, interacting with friends, job opportunities and access to government and health services all available online, it has never been more important for members of our community to start their digital journey.

Anna Easton, BT’s Sustainable Business Director commented:

“At BT, we believe in the power of communications to make a better world. We want to ensure that everyone can not only access the digital world, but has the skills and support they need to stay online in the long term. Feedback from our existing digital inclusion programmes shows that for the elderly and unemployed, both access and long term support in the community is essential. This new partnership with Barclays will ensure that support is available for those that need it most.”

Steven Roberts, Strategic Transformation Director at Barclays, says:

“Across the country, people are experiencing the digital revolution, but like all revolutions, it’s not one that happens to all people at once. Some will adopt digital skills quickly, others will take more time. At Barclays, we firmly believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind on the digital journey and through this significant partnership with BT, we can ensure that even more people have access to the services and support they need to embrace the digital revolution.”

BT and Barclays have both committed to support the implementation of the Government’s Digital Inclusion strategy which aims to reduce the number of people offline in the UK by 25 per cent by 2016. Find out more about the Government Digital Strategy and the UK Digital Inclusion Charter.

Free Wi-Fi will be set-up in Nunhead Library and Barclays Digital Eagles/BT Digital Friends will be on-hand to support.

For further information please visit: http://www.wifiinourcommunity.bt.com

BT and Barclays in the community

Both BT and Barclays are committed to making a positive contribution to society and to local communities. We want to help everyone to achieve their ambitions online and we believe that there is no better start on the path to success than access to skills, enterprise and employability. We are leveraging our resources and employees’ time and expertise to provide communities with the skills they need to build a better future for themselves and for their families.

By working hand in hand with local communities and stakeholders and spearheading charity initiatives we are confident that we can help people to reach their full potential. Both BT and Barclays are proud of our reputations as socially responsible organisations and as community partners and we are looking forward to continuing this partnership in the future.

For further information

BT regional press office: 0800 085 0660
From outside the UK: + 44 20 7356 5369.
All news releases can be accessed at our web site: http://www.btplc.com/News