The UK online centres network helps people gain the skills and confidence they need to get online, transforming lives and communities.
Our 3,800 strong network of community partners continues to be our biggest asset, going out into their communities to get the hardest to reach people online in locations where they feel comfortable.
Satisfaction in the UK online centres network has reached record levels during 2011/2012, with 99% of our centres expressing satisfaction with being part of the network. This is a fantastic achievement, giving great recognition to the central team that provide them with the support and resources they need.
How our network has developed
The UK online centres network has continued to grow during the past year, with centres recognising the huge benefits that being part of a national network can provide.
While UK online centres continue to operate in more traditional locations, such as libraries and community centres, it is now equally likely that you might find one in a pub, a cafe or even a launderette or a barn thanks to funding from Nominet Trust, as centres take their work out into the community to help the hardest to reach to get online.
UK online centres at Wetherspoons - The Bankers Draft, Sheffield
Take a look at just one example of how a successful outreach project has worked at a pub in Sheffield.
Introducing Access Points
One major development for the UK online centres network during the past year has been its expansion outside of England to help people get online in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Centres in these nations, or centres in England who don’t want full partnership, can now become part of the network as Access Points.
Although these centres cannot apply for funding, or take advantage of free training or marketing materials, they can still access a number of other benefits - they are included on a national centre search, can take part in high-profile campaigns and can make use of our high quality online learning products.
Being a UK online centres' partner has many benefits
As well as the chance to bid for UK online centres funding, partners are supported in many different ways:
- We provide training to all staff and volunteers in the UK online centres network
- Our focus for the year has been on training volunteers, ensuring they have the skills they need to support people to get online and ensure centres can become sustainable organisations
- We provided over 500 training grants in the year to March 2012, with over half of these supporting volunteers. Almost £90,000 was given out in total in training grants
- 200 training events were held, including over 120 webinars, training nearly 2000 people
- We communicate with centres regularly, through newsletters, social media and websites, providing them with news and updates as well as encouraging them to share photos, stories and top tips
- In 2011, we relaunched the UK online centres website to ensure all centre partners could easily find and access the resources that were relevant to them
- Our weekly newsletters are sent to over 3,000 contacts working in partner centres, and 2011 saw us launch a funding newsletter to keep centres informed of the wider funding opportunities available to them. We also send a regular newsletter to Access Points too.
- In 2011/2012, over 1,500 centres received Online basics grant funding from us, and 63 Community Capacity Builder centres were funded