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Happy Birthday BETA Netc@fe!
Friday 26th February, 2010

BETA Netc@fe, the UK’s first charity internet café is this week (w/c 1 March) celebrating its 10th birthday.

The Wigan based Netc@fe is the brain child of Project Directors, Eileen Bithell and Eileen Walsh. It was officially opened by football legend, Joe Royle on 29 February 2000.

The Netc@fé was established to provide part time employment / supported work experience for adults with learning and physical disabilities, as well as internet access for the general public with free tutor support.

Eileen Bithell said: “It is hard to believe that we have reached this milestone. We certainly didn’t imagine ten years ago that we would be here celebrating our anniversary.

“In the BETA Netc@fe, we focus on ability rather than disability. Our employees serve customers, rather than being hidden away in the back. The Netc@fe has been important in breaking down barriers to social inclusion and tackling unfair stereotypes head on.”

During the last ten years, over 40,000 people have benefited from the free tutor support provided in the BETA Netc@fe.

Eileen Walsh said: “We have helped so many people with a variety of things such as job search, writing CVs and setting up email accounts. We have even given people their first experience of the World Wide Web here. Our free one-to-one tutor support is what makes BETA Netc@fe unique and has proved to be a real asset to the people of Wigan.”

The Netc@fe is a spin off from the original BETA charity, which provided basic skills education and training for adults, most of whom had learning and physical disabilities.

BETA Netc@fe employees, volunteers and students have gained over 700 nationally recognised qualifications such as City and Guilds and RSA, as well as certificates in food hygiene and customer service.

Eileen Walsh adds: “In addition to the qualifications they have achieved, working in the café has provided a huge confidence boost and has proved that they are capable of working in a fully integrated environment.”

BETA Netc@fe is situated in Wigan town centre on King Street opposite the Revolution Bar. It is open Monday to Saturday 9.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. Internet / computer access costs just £1.50 per hour with free one-to-one tutor support if required. Refreshments are also available at a very reasonable price.

BETA Netcafe (registered charity number: 1070662) currently receives a grant towards the rent from Wigan Council’s Adult Services. It relies upon donations and is grateful to Hindley Rotary Club/Hindley Inner Wheel for their donations and ongoing support.

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