E-envoy attempts to get EverybodyOnline

Earlier this week E-envoy Andrew Pinder launched the latest stage of the 'EverybodyOnline' strategy at West Walker primary...

Earlier this week e-envoy Andrew Pinder launched the latest stage of the  'EverybodyOnline' strategy at West Walker primary school in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to encourage more people in disadvantaged areas to use the internet

Visiting the school as part of an official visit to the north-east on Wednesday, Pinder described the importance of the campaign as the government attempts to bridge the UK's digital divide.

He said, "This is a tremendous national campaign - getting online is for everyone and we want everyone to share in that experience.

"In order to exist in the working environment you have to know about computers and getting online."

EverybodyOnline, a joint initiative between BT and the Citizens Online charity, has appointed a project officer to make local residents aware of opportunities to use the internet and IT. The Walker area was chosen following research which revealed that its internet adoption rates are below the UK average.

The strategy encompasses a number of areas across the country, including Cornwall, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Croydon.

Former England footballer Peter Beardsley put his weight behind the campaign in Walker. Now the coach of Newcastle United's under-19 academy team, Beardsley spent much of his childhood in the local area.

"It's great that Walker is part of this national initiative," he said.

But the former Everton and Newcastle United star admitted that he has to rely on his two children to help him surf the net.

The government has also attempted to bridge the digital divide in Newcastle by offering free internet introductory sessions at UK Online centres until 31 March.

Internet take-up in the north-east as a whole is relatively low compared with other parts of the UK. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that from October 2001 to September 2002, 36% of households in the north-east had internet access compared with 41% in the north-west and 50% in the south-east.

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