Open Blue finalist for Digital heroes Awards
Open Blue has been shortlisted as a regional finalist for TalkTalk’s Digital Heroes Awards. Vote HERE.
This is the third year that TalkTalk have run the awards which recognises people who harness digital technology to bring about positive social change in their communities.
“It’s great news and we are all very excited!” said Andy Weeds, Open Blue’s Project Director. “The email informing us we had been shortlisted talked about the record number of entries and how the judges had been particularly impressed with our project.”
The Open Blue Trust, started in 2003, converted a double-decker bus into a mobile community centre. From very early on it has had four laptop computers all linked by wi-fi to a 3G mobile internet connection which allows users to access the internet. Over the years this has proved very helpful for those who do not have a computer or broadband at home.
For a number of years the bus has visited the traveller community at Thingley.
"When we first came nobody had a laptop here but since using our laptops they've begun to see the value in it," said Mr Weeds. "One person told me that they didn't really know how to use a computer until we came and now we've shown them, they can now communicate with their other gypsy traveller friends across the country on Facebook."
For Joe, a Romany living at the caravan park, the bus also represents community acceptance.
"On the roads today you don't get a very good welcome off the public," he said. "As soon as they know you're a traveller, gypsy, whatever - as soon as they know you're one of them, you're the lowest rated person in England. So when people come down like that - with the Blue Bus - it gives us a bit of hope that people are thinking about us. That's all we want out of life, to live a life we know how to live but be accepted by the community."
As well as receiving an award, presented at a House of Lord’s reception, if Open Blue win the public vote they will receive £5,000 to put towards the work of the bus. The regional winners also have the opportunity to win the national Digital Heroes Award with a prize of £10,000. More details about the award can be found at HERE and the vote closes on the 13th November.