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Caithness News Bulletins July 2004

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Computer Scheme For Rural People Comes To Scotland
A successful initiative providing refurbished, ex-Government computers for rural people is expanding into Scotland.

The Warwickshire-based 'Arthur Rank Centre' charity entered into a partnership arrangement with the Government Disposal Services Agency to access high quality, fully refurbished and guaranteed ex-Government computer equipment two years ago.

Now 'Computers for Rural People', which brings IT to those who need it at very reasonable prices (an internet-ready laptop costs just 345 including vat and delivery) is coming to Scotland, after the scheme gained interest at the Royal Highland Show.

David Long, who has managed the scheme voluntarily since 2002, says it is proving to be a very practical way to make a positive impact on the quality of life in rural communities.

CRP has already helped many rural community groups, churches, schools, farmers and businesses access to good quality computer equipment; and could especially benefit those in the more isolated parts of Scotland.

"It is increasingly difficult for farmers to manage their businesses without computers. Some have been buying from us to help them with online cattle tracing, which is essential nowadays. Others feel the need to keep up with the speed of change, change the way that they present data, or to access essential information, from Defra for example, quickly through the internet," explained David.

Brabins Endowed School, one of the oldest schools in Lancashire, has set the pace in establishing cost-effective wireless technology in its school. Situated in a small Lancashire rural community, the school purchased 8 laptop computers together with wireless cards and transmitters.

Dorset Farmer, Guy Trehane bought a laptop to help his son study. "The laptop arrived on time, in good order and has proved invaluable to my son during his work placement where he does not have access to the usual university library resources. He is also planning to use it extensively for his dissertation."

Rural churches are keen to develop their mission using IT, but cannot afford commercial prices, says David Long.

"Some congregations have even transformed the style of their worship; prospective churchgoers have shown real interest when they see PowerPoint in a service, when they may not have done so previously" he said.

The scheme has seen the sale of more than 100,000 worth of second hand computer supplies into rural communities in less than 2 years. The scheme is not for profit but a 30 donation is made to ARC for each purchase made to help support the charity's work.

For more information on 'Computers for Rural People' contact the ARC on 02476 853 060
email  info@arthurrankcentre.org.uk

The Arthur Rank Centre is a collaborative unit supported by the Royal Agricultural Society of England, the National Churches and the Rank Foundation serving the rural community and its churches.