Children's charity NCH today launched its Access to IT scheme in association with several IT companies including telco giant BT and electronics expert Hewlett Packard, in a bid to improve IT access for children.

Members will provide financial and personnel support as well as equipment to a number of projects around the country. The aim is to identify the best routes for the government to follow, ahead of its 2005 deadline to get all its services online.

The first places to benefit will be London, Surrey and Coventry, which will receive total funding of £560,000. London's Bayswater Family Centre will be provided with IT staff and equipment for local homeless families who currently cannot afford to access such services. The success of each project will determine what support and equipment is needed in the future.

"Bridging the digital divide means finding ways of extending benefits of new technologies to all children — and that includes some of society's more vulnerable or needier children," said NCH internet safety officer, John Carr.

"With the support of our corporate partners, we aim to demonstrate to government the impact that access to IT can have on children's lives to encourage them to make good on their promise of extending access to everyone who wants it by 2005."

The members of Access to IT are AOL, BAE systems, BT, Cable & Wireless, Hewlett Packard, Microsoft and the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists (WICT).

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