Give a little of your time and make a big difference

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Give a little of your time and make a big difference

John Riley

Have you ever wanted to use your IT expertise to contribute to valuable charity and community projects?

If so, you could join more than 2,000 IT professionals who have registered with IT4Communities, the national IT volunteering programme, to provide IT help to their local charities and community projects.

The initiative, set up in 2002, has so far attracted more than 740 projects (from websites to databases, strategies, advice, policy development, training and technical advice/support) from more than 550 charities. Participants have already given almost £500,000 worth of support free to these groups.

IT4 Communities is supported by Intellect, the British Computer Society, the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Business in the Community, Computer Weekly and Citizens Online.

It is aiming to boost the number of registered IT professionals wanting to help to 2,500 by its second anniversary this November.

Examples of projects completed to date include:

  • Development of an IT strategy and applications for Slough Refugee Support, a charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers
  • A website for the National Phobics Society
  • An intranet website for The Royal Schools for the Deaf, Manchester, to provide staff with access to resources including databases, policy documents and document templates
  • Anne Stratton from the Citizens Advice Bureau and Graham Ball from Interel Systems developed a simple website and needed help with time and technical skills for the CAB in Coalville, Leicestershire.

IT4C is generating more remote or virtual opportunities volunteers can take part in from their desks. There are also more snappy projects (quick and easy for volunteering, but with significant benefits for the charities).

Full details can be found in the latest newsletter at www.it4-communities.org.uk

Remote volunteering can pose new challenges, but can also be just as rewarding and successful as volunteering locally, says Simon Davey, national director of IT4Communities.

Among the many requests for help currently with IT4Communities are:

  • A Brighton charity seeking advice from a networking specialist
  • An Islington-based children's charity looking for help from a database specialist with strategic business and project management experience.

"Computer Weekly readers are making a significant and important contribution to these charities and community groups," Davey said.

"The commercial value of some of these volunteer projects is several thousands of pounds, well beyond the wildest dreams of many small charities.

"A number of the groups have also used the projects to draw down more funding and support for their work. IT4C volunteers make a big difference.

"However you want to volunteer your IT knowledge and skills, IT4C has the opportunities to match. They say you should never work with children or animals but most of our volunteers thoroughly enjoy the experience," he said.

To take part in IT4Communities, or for more information e-mail: simon@it4communities.org.uk.


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