Volunteers urged to 'give an hour' for online drive

Martha Lane Fox and the Race Online 2012 team have challenged volunteers to donate an hour of their time to help get others online.The 'Give an Hour' drive kicked off on Monday as part of the wider Race Online 2012 campaign, which aims to get everyone in the UK using the internet by the time the London Olympics start next year.

Martha Lane Fox and the Race Online 2012 team have challenged volunteers to donate an hour of their time to help get others online.

The 'Give an Hour' drive kicked off on Monday as part of the wider Race Online 2012 campaign, which aims to get everyone in the UK using the internet by the time the London Olympics start next year. The new initiative is based around the fact that the clocks will go back on Sunday, giving everyone in the UK an extra hour that could go to helping a family member or friend discover online life.

"There are still 8.7 million people in the UK who've never made a free Skype call, explored and expanded their interests or got a great deal online. Yet, it's impossible to imagine life without the web for anyone who uses it regularly," Lane Fox said in a statement.

"We live in an age when 'digital' is a vital life skill: as basic as knowing how to read and write. 90 percent of new jobs require it: you're 25 percent more likely to get work when you have web skills and once in work you'll earn up to 10 percent more. It's simply unacceptable that so many people are still unable to benefit from what the web can offer," the entrepreneur added.

Lane Fox's campaign has government backing but no official funding. It appears to be having some success, judging from the figures quoted in successive statements — 10 million people needed to be brought online when the campaign launched in July 2010, 9.2 million people in January and 8.7 million now.

From Monday, Three shops, Mecca Bingo halls, John Lewis department stores, JobCentre Plus centres, post offices and Wetherspoon's pubs will all encourage staff to donate an hour of their time.

This week, it will be the turn of Three staff to give their hours between 5.30-6.30pm, across the mobile operator's 319 retail stores. On Tuesday, directly-managed Post Office Crown branches will offer advice about getting online all day long.

Next Monday, 99 Mecca bingo clubs will hold "internet taster sessions throughout the day, with free tea and biscuits for early starters", Race Online 2012 said.

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