Post Office Couple Join Campaign to Get Internet-Naive Adults Online; AROUND 500,000 IN WALES HAVE NEVER LOGGED ON TO THE NET

Article excerpt

Byline: RACHAEL MISSTEAR

A MASSIVE campaign will be launched this week in a bid to drive online the one in six Welsh adults who have never accessed the internet.

Out of the UK's 9.2 million adults - the combined size of the entire population of its five biggest cities - that have never used the internet, approximately 500,000 live in the Wales, new figures reveal.

More than half of those are among the most disadvantaged; 39% are over 65; 38% are unemployed and 19% are families with children.

But now a government-backed initiative dubbed Race Online 2012 aims to introduce those who do not have access to the internet's potential as a growing communication and information forum.

Martha Lane Fox, who co-founded the internet site lastminute.

com and is the UK's Digital Champion, said there are "compelling economic reasons" for increasing online usage and that it was her "mission" to get as many of the millions of adults who have not used the internet to do so.

The ambition is to make the UK the first nation where everyone can use the web, and so improve the convenience and efficiency of public services by driving online delivery.

She will announce the creation of a cross-sector volunteer force charged with helping adults get online at a conference in London on Wednesday and Thursday. The idea is to recruit a volunteer teaching force, made up from small and large organisations across the private, public and charity sectors, and Race Online's official partners.

Among the 1,000 community digital champions will be Win and Richard Morgan, who run Llangadog Post office in Carmarthenshire.

The couple took over the business nine years ago, when there were fears it was going to close, and armed with a diversification grant from the Welsh Assembly the couple decided to set up an internet cafe.

"We did some research into what extra services were needed within the community and top of the list was an internet cafe," said Mrs Morgan, a retired maths and physics teacher.

To ensure all the community benefit, they set up Kite - Kadog Information Technology Enterprise - with other volunteers. The group applied for grants to enable free one-to-one tutoring to be made available for those in the community who do not have computers and who are unable to attend classes, or may not have the confidence to get training any other way.

Mrs Morgan said: "There is an alarming number of people who are excluded from what is becoming a mainstream means of communication and our job is to encourage them to be part of it. …