Rewards for digital usage for community ends

The search is on for community members using digital technology to boost participation as entries for a national competition open today.

The Digital Heroes Awards 2012, launched by phone and broadband provider TalkTalk in partnership with charities Citizens Online and Go ON UK, recognises and rewards people who are using technology to benefit their communities.

Now in their fifth year, the awards have provided funding and support to nearly 50 organisations across Britain.

Twelve winners, one from each region of the UK – voted for by the public – are chosen, and will each get £5000 to enhance their digital projects. One overall winner will receive £10,000.

This year there will be an additional category for children and young people, with a top prize of £4000 for their chosen charity and an Apple MacBook Air.

Last year’s winner in Scotland was Robbie Forsyth, who founded Youth Football Scotland two years ago to boost participation in youth football. He used the Digital Heroes award to expand the free service, which works to produce professional video coverage of youth club games.

Robbie said: “Since winning the award we have taken the our use of video to a new level. We spent £2000 on a new camera and the rest on hiring somebody with expertise to improve the quality of our coverage. Since November we have produced 75 videos, which generated an incredibly positive response.”

TalkTalk chairman Sir Charles Dunstone is on the judging panel that includes Martha Lane Fox, the UK’s Digital Champion, and Lloyd Embley, editor of the Daily Mirror and Sunday Mirror.

Commenting on the awards Dido Harding, Chief Executive of TalkTalk, said: “Digital Heroes is the only competition of its kind, and each year attracts hundreds of nominations from people across the country. It has already made an enormous difference to dozens of important projects and I am delighted to be supporting it again this year.”

In addition to the main awards, Martha Lane Fox will present a special award for the Young Digital Hero on behalf of Go ON UK, a charity she chairs which aims to make UK the world’s most digitally connected nation.

“It’s always inspiring to meet digital champions from communities across the UK, I look forward to the Digital Heroes Awards year after year.” she said.

“At Go ON UK we’re pleased to get involved with an initiative that shines a light on the extraordinary things people can achieve through digital technology and I am excited that this year we have a new award that will recognise a young champion under 18, that has helped get people online.”

John Fisher, chief executive of Citizens Online, said: “The internet is an important part of daily life for an increasing number of Britons, especially children and young people, and it is important that it is made accessible to everybody.

“Digital Heroes has already helped dozens of important projects to change their communities for the better and we hope this year’s awards will inspire more people to think about how digital technology can benefit society.”

The awards are now open for submissions at www.talktalk.co.uk/digitalheroes and the deadline for entries is September 14.