Birthday push for IT volunteers

The national IT volunteering programme IT4Communities aims to increase the number of IT professionals willing to lend their...

The national IT volunteering programme IT4Communities aims to increase the number of IT professionals willing to lend their expertise to local charities from nearly 2,000 to 2,500 for its second birthday in November.

Through IT4Communities, an organisation supported by Computer Weekly, IT professionals have given £400,000 worth of their time to local charities and community projects. Simon Davey, national director of IT4Communities, is aiming to boost that figure to £500,000 by the end of this year.

Among the most recent of the 830 projects IT4Communities volunteers have helped is a Shropshire wildlife charity which needed advice on a network upgrade to support a more advanced database. Another, a south coast youth charity, needed someone with business and project management experience to help it develop a three-year IT strategy.

In a new initiative called "Six Degrees of Separation" Davey is calling on all current volunteers to tell six of their friends what they are doing and what IT4Communities is about.

"Our volunteers are putting their heart and soul into the volunteer projects," he said. "It is not only their technical expertise which benefits the groups but the advice and understanding they provide for community workers who are intimidated by IT.

"IT4Communities volunteers help to unlock the mysteries of IT for the voluntary and community sector and help to improve services for the most needy and disadvantaged.

"However you want to volunteer your IT knowledge and skills, IT4Communities has the opportunities to match. From the heart of the City to rural Scotland, there is something for everyone."

Once registered there is no pressure to volunteer for a project straight away - the emphasis is on matching the right person with the right project. "I was registered on the site for almost a year before I found the 'perfect' opportunity," said one volunteer.

There have been many notable successes. The National Phobics Society was so pleased with its website, set up with volunteer help, that has nominated it for a national charity website award.

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