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...Winning community groups and charities, from Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides, demonstrate truly innovative use of the Internet...

Thirty community groups and charities across the UK can now launch their dream Internet projects after winning the AOL Innovation in the Community Awards, run by AOL UK and the national charity Citizens Online.

AOL UK and Citizens Online today announced the 30 winners of the national awards scheme, which will all receive £2,000, plus a year's free subscription to AOL, to help them fund their proposed community or charity project. The AOL Innovation in the Community Awards, which were open to any community group or registered charity in the UK, received more than 800 applications in their second year.

John Fisher, CEO of Citizens Online and Chairman of the awards judging panel, said: “The response has been fantastic this year, proving that the Internet can play a crucial role in the activities of charities and community groups across the UK.”

“The judges were particularly impressed with the level of innovation shown by the winning projects - many of the applicants thought beyond simple information Web sites and have truly made the most of the possibilities of technology. We are really looking forward to seeing the impact of these awards at a grass roots level."

The 30 winning projects reveal the extent to which the Internet can be used to provide inspirational and innovative opportunities for local communities, disadvantaged children, the seriously ill and the elderly.

This year’s awards will provide funding for projects as wide-ranging as helping people with health problems stay in touch with their families; providing confidential counselling and therapy; tackling crime; creating an online historical archive; and enabling young people to develop important life skills. Several of the projects will take advantage of broadband technology.

Karen Thomson, CEO of AOL UK, commented: “The applications we received this year demonstrated how excited many non-profit organisations are about the opportunities the Web offers. Many of the winning organisations are embracing online forums, email counselling, mobile technology and video communications – plus they’re taking advantage of increased broadband availability across the UK - all with the goal of better supporting the people they serve.”

The winning projects include:

Bridge Mentoring Plus Scheme in Bridgend, Wales, which provides trained, volunteer mentors to work with socially disadvantaged young people. It will set up an e-mentoring programme and teach safe Internet skills.

Emergency Medical Care, based in West Lothian, Scotland, which will make the most of broadband by expanding the first aid advice and courses it offers via its Web site.

Notting Hill Housing Trust in West London, which aims to give young people a voice in their local community. It will set up a 24/7 community youth radio station, which will be broadcast online before going “on air”.

St John’s Pre-School in Toxteth, Liverpool that will create a “magic carpet”, to educate and entertain local children. Using a large rug, a computer, a broadband Internet connection, and a colour monitor, it will take the children on virtual journeys around the world or back in time.

The AOL Innovation in the Community Awards were set up by AOL UK and Citizens Online in 2003 to encourage innovative use of the Internet amongst community groups and charities across the UK and to help bridge the digital divide. The 30 recipients of the 2004 awards will be invited to attend an awards ceremony in London on 20 September.

The following 30 projects will receive AOL Innovation in the Community Awards this year:

Access Space, Sheffield – to run Web design and digital photography workshops for young people in the city

ASPIRE (the Association for Spinal Injury Research, Rehabilitation and Reintegration), Stanmore, Middlesex – to fund a trainer who will run IT adaptive assessments of people with spinal cord injuries so that they can use the Internet despite limited mobility and hand movement

Bamboo Academy, Nottingham – to expand its Chinese Arts Web site and offer online learning to make the arts more accessible

Birmingham Repertory Theatre – to create a special area on its Web site for a new writing and drama project aimed at inner city youngsters in Birmingham and Chicago

Bolton Lads and Girls Club – to provide an Internet and Relationships Co-Ordinator for young people and their families in Bolton

Bridge Mentoring Plus Scheme, Bridgend – to set up an online mentoring scheme for disadvantaged young people in the area, focusing on developing safe Internet skills

Brunswick Square Central Lawn Association, Gloucester – to set up a “Neighbourhood Watch” bulletin board on its Web site and develop an online newsletter as part of an ongoing initiative to reduce crime in the area

International charity the Catholic Institute for International Relations – to create individually branded Web sites for its overseas development partners in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East

Cirencester Opportunity Group, Gloucestershire – to install a webcam in a bird nesting box, so that pre-school children and other members of the local community can engage with local wildlife

Cobhair Bharraigh on the Isle of Barra, Scotland – to help people in its care communicate with family and friends, many of whom live some distance away

The Disabled Parents Network, North London – to improve its Web site and strengthen its support for disabled parents by running online discussion forums

Emergency Medical Care, Fauldhouse, West Lothian – to make the most of Fauldhouse being broadband-enabled by expanding the first aid advice and courses it offers via its Web site

Erskine Hospital, Bishopton, Renfrewshire – in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings, to record the memories of World War II veterans in the hospital’s care for inclusion in an audio section on its Web site

Fahamu, Oxford – to deliver key news digests about social justice issues in Africa via SMS text technology

Fairbridge, Glasgow – to support a mobile learning project for disadvantaged young people in the city

Fair Shares, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire –to set up the first Internet café in the town and offer Internet access in exchange for “time” as well as money, as part of its “time bank” volunteering initiative

Family Matters, Gravesend, Kent – to offer a confidential email counselling service for victims of childhood sexual abuse in London and Kent, which will run alongside its telephone helpline

The Forest Recycling Project, Waltham Forest, East London – to extend its innovative “Give or Take” exchange programme on to the Web

Living Streets, South London – to create a “virtual street” on the Living Streets Web site, as part of its ongoing campaign for streets that are safe, clean and fit for pedestrians

The London Irish Women’s Centre, Stoke Newington – to fund IT equipment so that an outreach worker can have access to online advice and information whilst working on site in Holloway Prison for women

The Notting Hill Housing Trust, West London – to create a 24 hour community youth radio station, which will initially be broadcast online and will enable the young people involved to develop their Web skills

Oasis North London – to purchase IT equipment and software for the group’s homework club for children affected by HIV

National charity OCD-UK – to run online therapy sessions on its new Web site
for sufferers of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders

The Reading Single Homeless Project – to contribute towards providing a greater sense of security and community at a number of its sites across the town

St John’s Pre-School, Toxteth, Liverpool – to take children on a “magic carpet” ride around the world and back in time using a large rug, a new computer, a broadband Internet connection, and a large screen

Saint Catherine’s Hospice, Scarborough – to set up a mobile Internet unit to enable in-patients and day hospice patients to stay in touch with friends and family via email and webcams

Sign (the National Society for Mental Health and Deafness), Beaconsfield – to provide communication skills training to approximately six members of its day centre for deaf people in need of emotional support in South West London

Solid Rock Café, Camelford, Cornwall – to set up a broadband Internet suite for local teenagers and encourage online communication with similar youth groups overseas

National charity Stonewall – to set up an Internet-related project

Woldgate Travellers Association, Bridlington – to set up an Internet café for the traveller community in the area

- Ends –

Notes to Editors

For further information about the AOL Innovation in the Community Awards 2004 or any of the winning projects, please contact:

Vicky Prior or Louise Tipton
AOL UK
020 7348 8093 or 020 7348 8096
VickyPriorUK@aol.com or LouiseTiptonUK@aol.com

About the AOL Innovation in the Community Awards

The AOL Innovation in the Community Awards were set up by AOL UK and Citizens Online in 2003 to encourage innovative use of the Internet amongst community groups and charities across the UK and to help bridge the digital divide. The 2004 awards launched on 22 March, with a closing date of 11 June 2004.

Entry to the AOL Innovation in the Community Awards was open to community groups and registered charities across the UK. 30 organisations were chosen by a judging panel to receive awards to the value of £2,000, which will be payable by cheque. In addition, each winning organisation will receive a year’s free AOL Anytime Annual subscription worth £164.89, subject to Terms and Conditions.

The awards organisers required a reference from either the Charity Commission (charity number) or the group’s Local Authority (a letter recognising it as a non-profit organisation).

The 30 recipients of the 2004 awards will be invited to attend an awards ceremony in London on 20 September.

About AOL UK
AOL is the leading online interactive services provider to the UK, with more than two million members. AOL offers a range of online interactive services in the UK, including flat-rate, broadband and mobile, as well as unrivalled content and community for all the family.

Members spend more than one hour a day online on average, enjoying access to AOL’s 24 channels of online content, from Entertainment and News to Parenting, Shopping and Money, as well as email and the Internet. All AOL members in the UK have access to freephone customer support.

AOL UK's Community Investment Programme seeks to extend the benefits of the online medium to those who would most benefit from it, but who are often the least likely to obtain access through traditional means. Priority areas are young people, particularly those outside of mainstream education, and people with disabilities.

The AOL service is provided to UK subscribers by AOL Europe Services SARL, a company in the AOL group based in Luxembourg. AOL (UK) Limited is part of AOL Europe, a business unit of America Online Inc., which is the world’s leading interactive services company with more than 30 million members worldwide. America Online Inc. is a division of Time Warner Inc., a leading media and entertainment company, whose businesses include interactive services, cable systems, filmed entertainment, television networks and publishing.

About Citizens Online
Citizens Online is a national charity committed to closing the digital divide. It believes that members of the community should have access to ICT and the Internet to ensure they are socially included in all areas of today’s society.

Citizens Online’s work includes research projects analysing the ever increasing digital environment and its impact on society as a whole. It works closely with the IT and Telecoms industry and local and central government in both an advisory and lobbying capacity and the development of ongoing projects across the UK.



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