The Telenet Foundation has helped 11,000 people use the internet since 2006, and is on target to meet its goal of getting 150,000 people online by 2015. The Foundation has received over 1,200 project proposals, of which 80 have been funded with over €1.75 million to date.
One of the projects is Recup PC, an award-winning partnership project with LINC, a non-profit organization providing digital support to schools and adult learning centers, alongside the Public Center for Social Welfare in Ghent, Belgium. The project aims to help underprivileged families connect to the internet, part of the Telenet Foundation's commitment to support initiatives that promote digital inclusion.
Recup PC has helped 17 households from the underprivileged area of Brugse Poort develop the skills and confidence they needed to get online. Each household was given a home computer, internet connection and computer training – all free of charge. Computer use was then monitored over the year and a significant increase in the households' use of the internet was observed. A year later almost 90% of the users are still online.
To reach those most in need of online access, Recup PC also engages community partners Digipolis, an IT company, and Ghent and Oikonde's social employment centers.
Recup PC has transformed the lives of the people involved, people like Edith, who previously lost €80,000 in an internet scam and was shown how to use online banking safely and how to manage her budget.
Recup PC was celebrated during Digital Week in Flanders where libraries, social services and training institutions collaborated to help over 15,000 people access the internet. During the week, Recup PC was presented with an e-award at a ceremony at the Flemish parliament, reflecting the project's contribution to digital literacy and participation. Ghent is now looking to expand the program to 100 more families, and to include Mechelen, host city of Telenet's headquarters in Belgium.
"Now that we can use the internet, we feel like we are back in society. The purpose of the Ghent Project, Recup PC, was not only to give impoverished people a computer, but also to teach them how to use it safely. It has certainly enriched our lives."
Edith, Recup PC participant