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Free IT training for community and voluntary groups

Community and voluntary groups in Lambeth and Southwark can apply for free training for staff and volunteers. The REALISE IT network also offers free computers to people with disabilities.

The programme includes the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) training. The ECDL is internationally recognised. It is designed for those who wish to gain a benchmark qualification in computing. No prior knowledge of IT or computer skills is required.

In addition REALISE is offering a series of half-day classes on Web design, Internet and Communication and Digital Photography. These courses are designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to these skills. Full details of the programme can be found at the REALISE website,

REALISE are hoping to offer a further series of courses tailored to the technical and e-business IT training needs of community and voluntary groups. REALISE would like input from potential users of this training on what this programme could most usefully cover – groups in the project area are encouraged to contact Jo Foster, by community@realise-it.org">email or through the REALISE enquiries line 020 7926 6217.

This free programme is offered as part of the REALISE IT Network's strategy to increase access to IT within the community. Other services for Community and Voluntary groups include free IT Consultancy and a referral service for low-cost equipment suppliers. REALISE are also examining ways of using refurbihsed IT equipment to increase community particpation and access to services, particularly among people with disabilities.

The REALISE IT Network aims to minimise the environmental impacts of IT waste, and maximise access to IT within the communities of Lambeth, Southwark, Westminster and the Corporation of London.

REALISE is a partnership between Lambeth Council, Southwark Council, Westminster Council, the Corporation of London, Cross River Partnership and Elephant Jobs, with financial support from the European Union's LIFE Environment fund and the UK Government's Single Regeneration Budget.

Free computers for people with disabilities

Meanwhile, the REALISE IT Network is working in partnership with pioneering charity U Can Do I.T. to provide free computers for people with disabilities in central London. This scheme, named Connecting U, makes use of unwanted IT equipment from businesses, public sector organisations and charities.

U Can Do I.T. provides one to one computer and internet training to deaf/hard of hearing, blind/partially sighted, and physically disabled people in the privacy of their own homes. Course participants, living in the London Boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark, Westminster and the Corporation of London, can now apply for free computers provided through the REALISE IT network.

Computers can provide many benefits to people with disabilities, such as greater independence through access to on-line services, more inclusiveness through e-mail and chat rooms and the chance to develop employment skills. For many, being able to use a computer proves to be a truly life changing experience.

REALISE are targeting businesses, public-sector and charitable organisations who have unwanted IT equipment to dispose of. Suitable equipment will be collected free of charge by professional IT Refurbishers, data is removed and where necessary components are renewed and upgraded. A proportion of this equipment is then passed on to U Can Do I.T. students for free, allowing them to develop and use their IT skills at home.

As well as taking advantage of free disposal of their unwanted equipment, businesses and organisations can also demonstrate their commitment to the community and the environment to their clients, customers and other stakeholders.

In order to qualify for free disposal, the computers must be Pentium 2 specification or above, and in working condition. Additionally the minimum collection quantity is 4 machines. REALISE IT also offer access to a full range of services for disposal, where the equipment is not suitable, or the minimum quantity cannot be achieved

Organisations who would like to learn more about disposing of their unwanted IT equipment through this scheme should contact the REALISE enquiries line on 020 7926 6217 or by info@realise-it.org">email.

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