Thursday, February 23, 2006

Community TV in Torfaen with webster.uk.net

Are you interested in Community TV? Would you like to be on local television? Do you have something of interest to say or display that would make good local TV viewing. We are looking for willing participants within the Torfaen area to be involved with a pilot community TV project we are running along side the Online Community Portal Project www.webster.uk.net.

For a greater understanding and overview of what community TV entails take a look at the excellent BBC local TV website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/localtv/ (BBC Local Community TV)

For more information on community TV in Torfaen email Geraint Rowland the Portal Development Co-ordinator on:

geraint.rowland@torfaen.gov.uk

Friday, January 27, 2006

Blaenafon Big Pit Mining Tourist Attraction Blaenavon

What Makes Big Pit Tick?2 - 27 Janary 2006Location: Big Pit, Blaenavon
See behind the scenes at Big Pit and get an insider's view of what it takes to keep Big Pit running smoothly.

11am - Site tour. Meet in waiting room.
2pm See and hear a range of mining machines in action.

Meet at entrance to conservation workshop

11am - 3pm (Monday to Friday only)

For further information contact 01495 790311

Torfaen Citizens Advice Bureau (C.A.B.)

Torfaen C.A.B. is the only specialist and generalist advice agency operating within Torfaen. We provide a quality assured advice and problem solving service for people from all sections of the community on a wide range of problems such as housing issues, benefit entitlements, debt, relationships, consumer issues, employment and so on.

We offer an open door, appointment and telephone service and represent clients at Social Security and Employment Tribunals and at the County Court for mortgage/rent re-possessions.We also help shape policies and improve services through our independant feedback based on our work with local people. The Bureau offices are wheelchair accessible.

We are a long established, professional voluntary organisation with 14 paid and 28 voluntary staff. torfaen C.A.B. supports Equal Opportunity policies and aims to ensure that the services we provide and paid or unpaid employment opportuinties within the Bureau are accessible to all sections of society irrespective of social, cultural, personal or economic circumstances.

All voluntary and paid staff joining the bureau undergo ONC accredited training in Generalist Certificate Advice Work.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Webster Domain of the Month - January 2006

Every month webster.uk.net chooses a domain (web page) that the webster team believe is worthy of the title 'Domain of the month'. This may be on number of hits the domain has received, how well presented it is, or how well the author/authors have been involved in promoting the page and project as a whole.

The first 'domain of the month' for 2006 was awarded to the Welsh Taekwondo Association.

The following is an extract from their webster page:

Our clubs have started from small beginnings with small classes starting at Pontypool and Cowbridge. This has expanded with additional clubs in Griffithstown on the outskirts of Pontypool and St. Julians, Newport. We are now the largest WTF Taekwondo Association in Wales. Our clubs specialise in teaching different ages and abilities please browse through our club options to see what is available.

Master Jo Draper founded the Welsh W.T.F. Taekwondo Association. Master Jo Draper is a 4th Dan in Taekwondo who has retired from competition and has represented the United Kingdom for over 12 years. Following motherhood in 1998 and 2002 she has focused more upon teaching and now runs a number of classes exclusively for children and mixed sessions for juniors and seniors. The Association has grown from strength to strength as a strong team of instructors and support manager continue to help people achieve their goals and most importantly enjoy being a part of the Welsh WTF Taekwondo Association. (Please browse through our structure to be introduced to each team member).


www.webster.uk.net/welshwtftka

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Learn Welsh Cymru with Jon - The Webster Community Outreach Worker

Are you interested in learning Welsh?

Are you learning Welsh and would like some help?

Are you bored of the usual learning techniques and would like to try electronic learning. If you are interested in some Welsh e-learning then contact:

Geraint Rowland or Jonathan Conick on the Webster Team below:

geraint.rowland@webster.uk.netjonathan.conick@webster.uk.net

Learn Welsh the fun way with Jon.

http://learnwelshwithjon.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Looking for a home in Torfaen? Try webster.uk.net housing and property domain



The Torfaen Housing page contains a host of information and links releveant to housing in Torfaen. This includes:

  • Links to local estate agents with information about houses and flats for sale and rent in Cwmbran, Pontypool, and Blaneavon.
  • Link to an online version of the Homefinder Guide which allows you to search through a list of available homes through the Homefinder scheme.
  • Links to websites to aid and assist the moving process.
  • Information and links about shelter housing and charter housing in Torfaen.
  • Information on council tax rates and local house prices.

For more information on housing, homes and property in Torfaen (Cwmbran, Blaenafon, and Pontypool) check the webster housing page:

http://www.webster.uk.net/housing

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Do you play football in Torfaen? Are you from Cwmbran, Pontypool or Blaenavon and would like to join a local football club? Do you have a local football club In Torfaen and would like to promote yourself for free online.

If so go to the dedicated local football page on webster.uk.net:

http://www.webster.uk.net/football

Welcome to the Football area on Webster. From here you can access all of the football related domains on Webster, simply by clicking the relevant logos or links below. If you are a member of a football club in Torfaen and would like your club to have a domain on Webster, contact us on info@webster.uk.net

For an example of how you can promote yourself take a look at Cwmbran Celtic Team site:
http://www.webster.uk.net/cwmbranceltic

Things to do in Torfaen. Activities, events, stuff in Torfaen.

The Online Community Portal www.webster.uk.net highlights a whole host of activities and things to do within Torfaen. If you live within Torfaen (Blaenavon, Pontypool, or Cwmbran) or you are visiting and would like to know what is going on then webster is a great place to start.

Webster.uk.net has a local events page http://www.webster.uk.net/events which breaks down local ongoing and upcoming events under the headings Cwmbran Events, Pontypool Park Events, Garn Events and Blaenavon Events as well as a page detailing 'Things to do in Torfaen'.

You may also want to look at the plethora of local community pages including special interest groups, hobby groups, sports clubs and societies and so on.

Do you want to get involved in the local Torfaen weblog project?

Webster.uk.net in conjunction with JISC and Becta Aclearn is currently running a research project looking at the use of weblogs as a learning tool within Torfaen.

A weblog (more commonly known as a blog) is a website that contains an oline persoanl journal with reflections, comments and hyperlinks (to other blogs or external websites). Example of a weblog (blog).

We are looking for people within the community to assist us with the weblog project over the next couple of months. By combining the themes of citizenship and e-government we will use weblogs to allow community learners to engage and interact with local government. This we hope will encourage democratic engagement and online communication and interaction.

In addition, as part of the project we aim to encourage and assist local councillors to use weblogs to communicate with their electorate.

If you are interested in getting involved in the weblog project or would like further information please contact Geraint Rowland on 01495 766224 or email: geraint.rowland@webster.uk.net.

http://www.webster.uk.net/weblog

Webster.uk.net Torfaen's One Stop Shop for all Business ideas and information

Webster.uk.net Torfaen's Online Community Portal for information relating to business's in Torfaen. Do you own your own small, medium sized business/enterprise (SME) in Torfaen? Are you thinking of setting up your own business in Cwmbran, Pontypool, or Blaenavon? Would you like to know what businesses exist within the area?

If so contact the business web advisor Andy Wilson on 01495 766084 or email andy.wilson@torfaen.gov.uk.


http://www.webster.uk.net/businessdirectory

Webster.uk.net Torfaen's Online Community Portal www.webster.uk.net

http://www.webster.uk.net/ is Torfaen's Online community portal. Torfaen is in the Eastern Valley of South East Wales. The community portal focuses on local community groups, sports clubs and societies, businesses, special interest groups, charities, voluntary groups and public

Friday, December 02, 2005

Commercial Licensing Laws and regulations within Torfaen

Welcome to the Commercial Licensing in Torfaen section.

The Licensing Act 2003 will come into effect on 24 November 2005. In February 2005 the Licensing Authority began to administer the conversion of Justice's Licences to the new Personal and Premises licences. All premises involved in the sale of alcohol or the provision of late night refreshments and regulated entertainment will be affected.

This site is intended to provide a "one stop shop" for the Licensing Act, and will include information for the public and business If you have concerns about any of the applications for licences under the new act you may have the right to make representations or objections about applications. For information on how to do this please see the information leaflet under the general section.

The licensing Act places a legal obligation on the Licensing Authority to publish a register of applications and licences granted, this can be veiwed from the link in the general section on this page.

Commercial Licensing also has a site at Torfaen Today which is intended to work in tandem with our Webster presence.

If you have any queries or suggestions, then please

Contact Us

Post
Torfaen Licensing Authority,
PO BOX 93,
Cwmbran NP44 7WZ
E-mail
commercial.licensing@torfaen.gov.uk
Phone
01633 648418
Fax
01633 648017


Or check the page on webster.uk.net for more information:

www.webster.uk.net/commercial-licensing

Environmental impact with Webster via the Greenspace project


Aims of project

The Greenspace Project is a three year project being funded by the Big Lottery (formerly NOF Transforming Your Space).
The main aim of the project is to increase understanding of sustainable development through practical involvement in the following areas:
  • Creating and improving habitats for biodiversity, including community gardens, wildlife friendly gardening, managing green spaces for wildlife, training in identifying and recording wildlife, collecting and growing seeds
  • Improving the local environment, such as improving footpaths and cycleways, lighting, seats, fencing, designing and installing sculptures or other artworks as informed by local residents and groups
  • Using resources sustainably, for instance, promoting energy conservation, reducing use of water, encouraging recycling and 'buying green'
  • Developing skills to manage projects, such as, researching the history of an area, planning and managing projects, use of ICT to promote projects, recognising contributions of volunteers
Visit the webster.uk.net green space project page on:

www.webster.uk.net/greenspace

and the green space weblog on:

http://greenspaceproject.blogspot.com/

for more information on a host of other environmental website resources check the following:

http://www.webster.uk.net/environment

Join a club or community group with webster - Blaenavon bowls

Blaenavon Bowls Club In Torfaen near Pontypool was founded in 1923 at the Miners Welfare Ground. We are a small club of aproximately 22 members but new members are always welcome.At present we play in the first Division of the Monmouthshire Bowling Association League

Our main practice night is on a Tuesday night but members are encouraged to practice any night other than matchnights.After matches or practice we like to socialise at Blaenavon Rugby Club Headquarters.

The club is affiliated to the Welsh Bowling Association, the Monmouthshire Bowling Association and the Eastern Valley Bowling Association.

We can be contacted at the Leisure Centre switchboard on 01495 790646 or at the groundsmans office at the pavilion which is situated within the welfare grounds

Chairman - Mr A Freeman - Tel No:- 01495 792842

Secretary - Mr M Samuel - Tel No:- 01495 772418

Captain - Mr S Probert -Tel No:- 01495 790767

www.webster.uk.net/blaenavonbowls

If you belong to a club or society in Torfaen and would liek to get involved in the webster project for promoting your group please contact Julia Rice on 01495 766310 or email her julia.rice@webster.uk.net.


New Inn Paint Supplies was established in 1996 and specialise in supplying the car and commercial industry with auto refinishing products.

Over the years we have maintained an established customer base in and around Torfaen. Our friendly team are always willing to help!

We are suppliers of Rage Extreme Paints, Standox, Autopaints, Mirka, HB Body, Upol, Wurth, Gramos Applied, Custom Colour,
LMC Hadrian, RGM and 3M.



The Highway, New Inn, Pontypool, NP4 0PW
Tel: 01495-755333
Fax: 01495-757509



http://www.webster.uk.net/newinnpaints

If you have a small or medium sized business/enterprise (SME) in Torfaen (Cwmbran, pontypool, Blaenavon) contact the webster business web advisor on 01495 766084.

Win a Dell PC with webster - free computer!



Win a fantastic Dell computer

Give us your views in this simple questionnaire and Christmas could come early if you win a top computer.

In recent times, more and more government and private sector services have been made available over the Internet using devices such as PCs and mobile phones. As Torfaen Council begins to explore these opportunities and open up its services in this manner, we are keen to understand the needs and preferences of our service users. We would be very grateful if you could complete the following questionnaire.

All questionnaires submitted by Friday 16 December will be entered into a prize draw to win a Dell Dimension 2400 PC.

To be entered into the competition please go to the homepage at http://www.webster.uk.net/.

Some webster feedback from the communtiies of Torfaen

Angela Williams, Pontypool, age group 36-45.
Found Webster via a search engine while looking for council services
Used A-Z and Quick Links to navigate and found the site easy to use
Comment: "Keep up the good work. I found exactly what I wanted."


Chloe, Abersychan, age group 17-25.
Webster was recommended by a friend. She has registered and visits the site every week. She uses the Content Selector to navigate and looks mainly at jobs and horoscopes and would like to see games on there
Comment: "this kiosk is really helpful because it helped me find a job."


Sarah Davies, Abersychan, age group 17-25.
Found Webster via Torfaen Today and visits the site daily. She has registered and uses the site for council services and general information. She uses the Content Selector and finds the site easy to use.


Aliema Woodland, Greenmeadow, age group 26-35
Positive feedback whilst using the Kingfisher Pub Kiosk and using the website generally. She mainly looks at jobs and finds the Quick Links easy to use.
Comments: "i find this computer very easy to use i would like to thank you"


Jo Barber, Abersychan
Found Webster via Torfaen Today and has registered. Looked for information on Dragon Bands using the A-Z, and found the site easy to use.
Comment: "Thank you for putting young bands onto your website, it's great to see them and hear them."


Suzanne Brown, Upper Cwmbran, age group 0-16
Found Webster via Torfaen Today and uses the site at least once a week. She mainly looks at Arcade games and info on kick-boxing classes. Using the Content Selector, A-Z and Quick Links, she finds the site easy to use.
Comment: "my only comment is that the sight is absolutely brilliant!!!!!!!!"

Stephen Phillips, Greenmeadow, age group 17-25

First visit and found Webster via Torfaen Today. Doesn’t feel registering would be of benefit. He looked for community group information and advice using Content Selector. Found the site mostly easy to use.
Comment: "too much going on on creen too small writing and lots of unnessacary information"

Hannah Lee, Croesyceiliog North, age group 0-16

Saw Webster.uk.net url advertised and visits the site ate least once every week. She likes looking for sport mainly, but feels there should be more sport info on the portal.
Comment: "you could have some more games on Webster."


Sarah Jane Moir, Pontnewydd, age group 0-16

Webster was recommended by a friend, and she visits the site daily and looks at council services and general content using the A-Z. She finds the site easy to use, and would like to see more games on the portal.
Comments: "easy to log on"


Anon, Cardiff, age group 36-45

Found Webster via a search engine and used all the methods of navigation around the site, finding it easy to use.
Comment: "trying to find why there is the excitement about the site. Is no different from any other local type site".

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Welcome to SPK out - the Youth magazine on webster.uk.net

Torfaen's online youth magazine discussing issues relevant to you on important issues including:

Health, alcohol, drugs, bullying and peer pressure, obesity and healthy eating, friendship problems, sport and exercise, sexual health and a whole lot more.

http://www.webster.uk.net/spkout

Webster and Blaenafon Book Town


Blaenafon or Blaenavon Book Town has close links to the webster.uk.net project in the North of Torfaen.

Blaenafon is set in a beatiful area of Torfaen, the most eastern of the South Wales Valleys. The landscape is certainly one of contrasts with steep sided valleys, heather moorland, rolling agricultural fields and diverse post industrial land.

Book lovers will enjoy delving into the shelves of Blaenafon's bookshops which stock a wide range of titles covering a wealth of subjects from natural history, photography, drama, poetry, children's Literature, history and politics to books on entertainment, videos and music. The bookshops have knowledgeable and helpful staff who will search for that exclusive book you're looking for, if it's not in stock.

All the bookshops in Blaenafon are open most weekdays and some weekends. However please contact individual shops for opening and closing times.

Blaenafon has many other shops that will interest and delight visitors including newly opened antique and coffee shops.

Blaenafon Booktown on Webster: http://www.webster.uk.net/blaenafonbooktown

webster.uk.net page helping to improve Torfaen

Torfaen County Borough Council seeks to significantly and continuously improve its services for the people of Torfaen.

Reaching our goal depends on us carefully planning our services, monitoring their delivery and adapting the delivery accordingly to best meet the customer needs.

The website's aim is to keep the reader informed about progress towards our goal of excellent services across the board, how unsatisfactory performance is being addressed and to invite feedback and discussion on all performance issues.

http://www.webster.uk.net/animprovingtorfaen

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Business, SME in Torfaen?



Do you have a business in Torfaen? Would you like help promoting yourself online. Via the community portal www.webster.uk.net you can set up a webpage on the portal free of charge where you can promote yourself visually on the World wide web to increase your customer base.

If you have a small business and are based in Cwmbran, Pontypool, or Blaneavon contact the webster business web advisor Andy Wilson on 01495 766084 or andy.wilson@webster.uk.net.

http://www.webster.uk.net/businessdirectory

Football in Cwmbran. Cwmbran Celtic Club on Webster

There are a large number of sports club sites within the webster portal. A page linking to local football clubs as well as highlighting national and international football news can be found at:

http://www.webster.uk.net/football

One club in particular have been actively involved in the project from the outset and that is Cwmbran Celtic second team:

"Having dabbled with web design, and knowing how frustrating it can be, Webster was a breath of fresh air. It is easy to use, quick to update and is a great source of local information. Being involved with over 16 football teams and some 200 players ranging from 5 to 50ish leaves me little time but Webster has provided a good vehicle to promote the whole Club. We publish match reports, squad photos, events and news and I fully applaud everything that Webster has provided."
Andrew Meaney, Chairman, Cwmbran Celtic Football Club

A Public Service Provider Case Study with webster.uk.net - Ponthir Community Council

Chris Thomas (Clerk), Councillor Michael Jarman and Councillor Jenny Nancarrow have developed a lively and vibrant Community Council site focussed on the Ponthir ward:

http://www.webster.uk.net/ccponthir

Chris Thomas said "Webster has enabled Community Councils, at a stroke, to hugely improve the way in which they provide information to their communities. This strengthens their representative role and creates a thoroughly modern way of letting people know what is going on and obtaining their views and feedback about local services and local issues."

Additional community council webster domains can be found on the portal such as the one for Henllys below:

http://www.webster.uk.net/cchenllys

And an overview of all the community councils in torfaen can be found at:

http://www.webster.uk.net/communitycouncils

A webster.uk.net SME Case Study - Talywain Golf Academy


Neil Matthews, the professional at Talywain Golf Academy, uses the Portal to publicise the golf club, his teaching academy as well as competition details and results. The project provided a broadband connection for his laptop and training and mentoring, assisted the development of Webster’s first golf domain. The private page host weekly chat sessions with academy pupils where they discuss problems with their golf swings. He says "To my knowledge, no other pro in the UK is using technology in this way. It makes teaching more accessible to the kids and allows me to increase membership and retain interest during the winter months. In short, it’s brilliant!!"

http://www.webster.uk.net/talywaingolfacademy

WEBSTER.UK.NET Covering the whole of Torfaen

The Project initially targeted two of Torfaen’s most deprived communities, Thornhill and Garnsychan, before being extended to the wider Borough. The project now covers the entire borough of Torfaen including:

Abersychan, Blaenavon (Blaenafon), Brynwern, Coed Eva, Croesyceiliog North, Croesyceiliog South, Cwmynyscoy, Greenmeadow, Llantarnam, Llanyrafon North, Llanyrafon South, New Inn, Panteg, Pontnewydd, Pontnewynydd, Pontypool, Snatchwood, St Cadocs/Penygarn, St Dials, Trevethin, Two Locks, Upper Cwmbran, Wainfelin.

It now provides Torfaen with a comprehensive electronic resource that is used by individuals, clubs , groups, small businesses and other organisations as a local gateway to a world of information and services.

Torfaen's One Stop Internet Shop webster.uk.net



Webster.uk.net provides the community with a first stop shop for information and services, but it is much more ambitious and innovative than, it also:

  • Equips individuals with real-world skills that improve their prospects, their employability and their access to information, support and services
  • Improves economic sustainability and regeneration by supporting local business and helping them take advantage of technology
  • Promotes social inclusion through the help it provides to community groups and the improved access to services it provides for individuals
  • Drives up demand for and supply of, electronic services and provides a the means of accessing them
  • Promotes community engagement and consultation through straw polls, structured questionnaires and healthy debate helping the community to shape the development of services and policies
  • Provides a customer focused view which encourages cross-cutting working and collaboration between disparate service providers
  • Provides a real encouragement for individuals, groups and businesses to see what ICT can really do further their interests
  • Is being openly cited as ‘best practice’ and the possibilities of a regional application is being considered - another Welsh Unitary Authority has just contracted to a similar product and approach.

Has provided a framework for other strategic developments, both within the organisation and in the broader community, and has become a ‘honey pot’ for attracting other funding opportunities.


Webster.uk.net acts as a focal point for the community that is accessible to all; captures the imagination of the Torfaen residents and businesses, and adds significant value to the lives of Torfaen citizens. In short it is a broadly based, forward looking and ambitious project that has been successful in meeting its initial targets and whose potential is only limited by ones imagination.

www.webster.uk.net

Springfield Guesthouse B & B - A webster SME Case Study

Springfields Guest House is found on the edge of the Cwmbran village of Llantarnam, but is conveniently situated within 3 miles of the M4 motorway Junction 25A and easily located. The town of Cwmbran is within easy reach of the cities of Newport and cardiff.

Built in 1896, this Victorian property was opened as a guest house in 1932 by my Mother, Mrs Joan Graham. It has become a precious family heirloom, loved and cared for, proudly and happily. The family has and will continue to constantly strive to improve and maintain the warm Welsh welcome and ambience of this Victorian house whilst affording guests the luxuries of 21st Century living. We cater for business, tourism and families with many of our guests returning to us from all corners of the globe.

http://www.webster.uk.net/springfieldsb&b

"Webster provides us with a medium via which to communicate, not just with local people, but also other businesses about the services we provide. It was important for us to get involved in the planning stages of Webster as we wanted to maximise its business potential. Webster has given us an online presence, which previously we wouldn’t have known how to create ourselves or we would have spent thousands bringing in a specialist firm to do it for us."
Theresa Hart, Proprietor, Springfields Guesthouse, Cwmbran

Torfaen Community challenges


Over two percent of Torfaen’s population is unemployed and almost 20 percent is above retirement age. Pockets of local deprivation led to Torfaen gaining ‘Objective One’ status, highlighting its need for extra development support. The council recognised that a community portal would provide a local focus and help ICT become a basic skill for everyone, open up new employment opportunities and enrich peoples’ lives.


"Projects such as Webster fit in with the Welsh Assembly's philosophy for Wales, which is that communities and businesses alike should be encouraged to "jump into IT". Webster is a top class Objective One project."

Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for Wales


"Webster isn’t just about providing council services online. We’re trying to rejuvenate the local area by enabling businesses to achieve a Web presence that would otherwise elude them. It also gives citizens the chance to enhance their IT skills, as well as gain access to information about educational courses, to tackle issues such as unemployment and outward migration."

Cllr Bob Wellington, Acting Leader, Torfaen CBC

webster.uk.net The Community Portal Project of South East Wales


Webster.uk.net is a community portal initiative which has been developed by Torfaen Council as an innovative e-Government project that uses technology and outreach workers to build strong relationships between local people, small businesses, strategic partnerships, the voluntary sector and other service providers. Designed and built by the community, it is packed full of information and services relating to Torfaen.

Officially launched on 24th March 2004, the initial phase of the project was funded by European Objective One money and led by Torfaen Council. This funding phase ended on 30th September 2005, and the success of the portal has meant that the Council has committed to the long-term provision of the service by bringing all necessary resources in-house.

Webster’s official launch was attended by the Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for Wales who said: "Projects such as Webster fit in with the Welsh Assembly’s philosophy for Wales, which is that communities and businesses alike should be encouraged to ‘jump into IT’. Webster is a top class Objective One project."

Sustaining and developing healthy and engaged communities is an over-riding objective of the Council whose vision is "To improve the quality of life in Torfaen significantly and continuously".
Webster.uk.net contributes to realising that vision in a number of ways that touch on economic and social regeneration, as well as helping to combat social exclusion. The project:
  • Equips individuals with IT skills that improve their prospects, employability and access to information, support and services
  • Improves economic sustainability and regeneration by supporting local businesses and encouraging them to take advantage of technology
  • Promotes social inclusion through the help it provides to community groups and the improved access to services it provides for individuals
  • Promotes community engagement and consultation through online polls, questionnaires, forms and emails, helping the community to shape the development of services and policies


The project initially targeted two of Torfaen’s most deprived communities before being extended to the wider borough. Via the portal’s content management software, local people are able to create and ‘author’ their own web pages, allowing direct involvement with its development, making the portal one that really is created for the community by the community.

The provision of 150 free PCs and broadband connections to a mix of community groups, local businesses and public sector organisations, as well as the installation of 29 touch screen kiosks throughout the borough, has also helped to tackle local issues surrounding social inclusion.

In addition to being able to ‘surf’ the information on Webster, users are able to pay their council tax, business rates etc, complete housing repair requests, report a minor crime and browse the library catalogue and reserve a book… all online through the kiosks, thus improving their access to the local services the Council offers.

Online public service and information examples on webster.uk.net include:

http://www.webster.uk.net/citizensadvice (Citizens Advice)

http://www.webster.uk.net/frameworkpartnership (Torfaen Children's & Young People Partnership)

http://www.webster.uk.net/torfaencustomercare (Torfaen Customer Care)

http://www.webster.uk.net/commercial-licensing (Commercial Licensing)

The Social Care Partnership of Torfaen

The partnership represents the Social Care Sector across Torfaen County Borough Council, and brings together a very wide range of organisations from the private, voluntary, statutory and academic sectors.

Their web page on Webster gives the sector an opportunity to network, gain information, training advice and much more. On the ‘Social Care Partners’ page you can access information on the social care workforce development programme, what the partnership of Torfaen is all about, available care vacancies, a list of care providers in Torfaen, and useful websites. There are approximately 150 people using the web page regularly, and Webster is part of their everyday working life.

http://www.webster.uk.net/socialcarepartners

There is also a private members’ area which has approx 100 registered users using it and contains the following content:

Aim of the partnership
Yearly planner
Newsletters
Minutes from meetings
Health and safety updates
Torfaen strategy
Advice helpline contacts
Training network for care providers
Free training offered via Torfaen social services

Amber Lewis, Partnership Support Offficer says: "The Webster page has managed to encompass the members of the social care partnership to network and gain information from one vocal point, this has encouraged the social care work force to work as ‘one sector one work force’.

This has helped the Partnership Support Officer to focus on a communication tool to a wide range of customers and stakeholders through one main point of communication and marketing, via a Webster page."

Torfaen - The Community Strategy Partnership

In Wales there is a requirement to develop a Community Strategy which represents the wider collective interest of the people of the area. In Torfaen this is being led by the Torfaen Partnership which, in addition to council representation, is made up of key stakeholders such as the Health Board, Police, Voluntary Sector, Community Councils and school governors. Webster has contributed with the development of the Community Strategy and other web pages, as well as providing a key channel in the consultation process that forms part of the development of the strategy.

The ‘Big Vision’ took place in November 2004 and was part of Torfaen's unique approach to Community Strategy Consultation. A high profile community arts project, it was designed to engage public interest and involvement in the long term service planning of the Local Authority and the Torfaen Community Strategy Partnership. The Webster.uk.net portal contributed to the Big Vision project in various ways ranging from funds to personnel and a web page dedicated to the project:

http://www.webster.uk.net/bigvision

Voluntary groups and young people throughout the borough worked together for a year to create a vision for the communities in the year 2025. A professional artist was appointed to interpret residents’ views of how Torfaen may appear 25 years from now. She worked closely with community groups, including local history societies, writers' guilds and youth groups, to create 10 images (positive and inspirational, as well as negative and controversial) that were magnified up to 100 feet and projected onto buildings at six locations throughout the borough.

The Webster project donated a Dell PC which was presented to a 9 year old girl from Cwmbran who took part in the consultation and felt that problem of rising house prices would be an issue for her in the years to come. She said:

"Something must be done to slow down house prices, otherwise children like me will never be able to afford a house".

A web page was set up on the portal where the images and the quotes that accompanied them could be viewed. There was also an online questionnaire where people could feedback their reaction to the images and their key priorities living in Torfaen, e.g. housing, crime, education, recycling, etc. The images and the feedback informed how future services in Torfaen were planned to avoid a negative future and promote a positive one.

http://www.webster.uk.net/bigvision

A year on, and the issues and priorities put forward by the citizens of Torfaen in the ‘Big Vision’ have been used by the Councillors to agree upon five key priorities for our Corporate Plan. The Corporate Plan has itself resulted a full organisational review and restructure of the Council to ensure that those strategic priorities are effectively delivered to the citizens of Torfaen.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Webster.uk.net Project Summary


Webster.uk.net is a community portal initiative which has been developed by Torfaen Council as an innovative e-Government project that uses technology and outreach workers to build strong relationships between local people, small businesses, the voluntary sector and other service providers. Designed and built by the community, it is packed full of information and services relating to Torfaen.

Over 300 community groups, small businesses and voluntary sector organisations have developed an online presence, utilising the Portal software to publicise their organisation, improve communication with members and customers, and network with similar organisations.
Sustaining and developing healthy and engaged communities is an over-riding objective of the Council whose vision is:

"To improve the quality of life in Torfaen significantly and continuously"

Webster.uk.net contributes to realising that vision in a number of ways that touch on economic and social regeneration, as well as helping to combat social exclusion through the assistance it provides to community groups and improved access to services it provides for individuals.
By working in conjunction with other internal departments and local partnership and strategy groups Webster promotes engagement and consultation, helping the community to shape the development of services and policies.

Webster.uk.net acts as a focal point for the community that is accessible to all, captures the imagination of the Torfaen residents and businesses, and adds significant value to the lives of the borough’s citizens. It is a broadly based, forward looking project that has successfully met its initial targets and whose potential is only limited by imagination!

Improving ICT Skills and Knowledge

Webster.uk.net has helped to improve the IT literacy of individuals involved, enabling them to competently use the internet, send emails and use word processing packages, in addition to designing and building their own pages on the portal with the guidance and training of their allocated Outreach Worker.

Through Webster, users have further enhanced their IT skills and some have even used their Webster training as a spring board to progress to accredited training programmes such as the ECDL. This in turn has provided users with a sound skill set to take to a place of work.

By making PCs, Kiosks, training and broadband connections available to the community, the Council has ensured widespread access to the portal and the effectiveness of Webster is best illustrated through the level of take up and usage. With 5,864,318 pages having been viewed in 2005 to date, Webster.uk.net is fast becoming the first port of call for local information and services for the people of Torfaen. It is in summary:

W: Working with and for the community
E: Engaging and encouraging community activity
B: Building relationships
S: Sponsored by the Council, designed and owned by the community
T: Training and supporting small businesses and individuals
E: E-Government positively impacting on community development
R: Regenerating local communities

Engaging With Young People


To mark Webster’s first anniversary, a Democracy event was held at a local comprehensive school on 18th March 2005. Year 10 pupils were given the following challenge: ‘If you were in charge of Torfaen Council, what would you do to make Torfaen better’. There were over 100 responses received and the ideas were varied and inspired! Five ideas were short-listed and displayed in a domain on Webster prior to the democracy day, and all five pupils were presented with certificates by the Leader of Torfaen Council and the Mayor.

In the main voting arena, pupils electronically registered to vote on Webster.uk.net, and within seconds were able to enter a virtual polling booth, remind themselves of the finalist’s submissions and then cast their vote electronically. To do this, they used the portal’s Voting application, which also provided immediate feedback on how the vote was going because the votes were automatically counted as they were recorded, making the final announcement quick and easy. Registration ensured that they could only cast their vote once.

In another area of the school, Torfaen’s democracy team created a democracy suite containing information on the areas of life that are affected by politics. Democracy games were set up on computers to enable the students to try their hand at being a councillor and at running a campaign. The Electoral Commission’s politics snakes and ladders floor game was continually being played throughout the day by students (and the Mayor!).

Councillor Bob Wellington, Leader of Torfaen Council, said: "This was an exciting and innovative approach to involving young people in the democratic process. They submitted over 100 brilliant ideas. We hope it encouraged them to engage in democracy and motivated their interest in the use of technology through our online community portal."

Out of a total of 160 Year 10 pupils, 135 voted in the election, giving a turnout of 84%. It enabled the pupils to learn more about democracy and their important role in elections, as well as finding out more about what their online community portal has to offer.

The preferred idea – securing 62% of the votes - was for a bowling alley to be built in Cwmbran Town Centre, and the current Cwmbran regeneration agenda now contains proposals for a bowling alley!

Involvement With Local Community Projects

In 2004, a local media group ran two community radio projects in Torfaen for a period of four weeks each. Both stations were part of a trial to help prove the feasibility of a permanent Torfaen-wide radio station.

WHAM radio went on air from May 3rd to May 28th 2004. Contact had already been made with the group by the Webster team, and a few team members were asked to go along and be interviewed about the portal, live on air. The interview went well and strengthened the relationship built with those involved in the project, so that when the second project was announced for four weeks during December 2004, the Webster team were fully involved.

Crow FM went on air from November 27th to December 24th 2004. Webster.uk.net loaned two PCs to the project to be used in the premises from which they were broadcasting to store music, interviews, etc. The Webster team were also given a one hour live show to do every Wednesday evening for the 4 weeks from 6.00pm – 7.00pm! All of the team were involved in the shows: we held live interviews with some of our community and business authors and also gave advice on internet safety, as well as playing songs and our own ‘jingles’ that we had recorded earlier in between interviews.

Webster.uk.net Author Testimonials

The team continually work hand in hand with the local community to ensure Webster.uk.net continues to meet local needs. Here are testimonials from three of our authors:

Testimonial A: Gethin Jones is the secretary of Pontypool Pacers, a local group that facilitates the rehabilitation of individuals with heart difficulties. The project has provided him with a PC, broadband connection and email account. Gethin says: "I was unconvinced about Webster and how it would benefit the support group, not least because I am a 65 year old man who until six months ago had never touched a computer. Now I use the portal for affiliation with organisations such as The British Heart Foundation and to share knowledge with other similar groups. Webster has opened up a whole new world both for the group and for me personally. My IT knowledge and skills are improving rapidly, helped along by my outreach worker who trained me and continues to provide guidance. Webster has changed my life!"

http://www.webster.uk.net/pontypoolpacers

Testimonial B: Andrew Meaney is the Chairman of Cwmbran Celtic Football Club, and has been authoring the club’s domain since the Portal was launched. He says: Having dabbled with web design, and knowing how frustrating it can be, Webster was a breath of fresh air. It is easy to use, quick to update and is a great source of local information. Being involved with over 16 football teams and some 200 players ranging from 5 to 50ish leaves me little time, but Webster has provided a good vehicle to promote the whole Club. We publish match reports, squad photos, events and news and I fully applaud everything that Webster has provided."

http://www.webster.uk.net/cwmbranceltic

Testimonial C: Nikola Masters is the owner of Osbourne Lodge Nursery, and has been promoting her business through Webster for over a year. Nikola says: "Webster has been excellent for me and my business. Not only has it has opened up massive learning opportunities for me and my staff through the use of the IT equipment but has made us more part of the community through the Torfaen portal.

I have greatly enjoyed the Webster workshops as I have had the chance to meet other small businesses who are also potential customers or suppliers. Working together to improve the Webster portal has been a great learning experience as to how other businesses operate and the value of the internet.

The support so far has been excellent from the Webster team. I am in the process of learning how to update and maintain my own site which was totally inconceivable a year ago!
The broadband service introduced to my business from Webster has proved a great asset in researching new child care and business ideas and freeing up time by using the internet banking and emailing facilities.

Many of the staff at the Nursery are totally new to the internet and are getting to grips with the possibilities available to them to aid in their development and research. I am very pleased I am able to be part of the portal and wish to continue giving my support!"

http://www.webster.uk.net/osbornelodgenursery

Fostering Community and Business Development and IT Literacy

One aspect that has proved crucial to Webster’s success is the provision of flexible and skilled Outreach Workers. The portal has four dedicated Outreach Workers: two focus on the community(Julia Rice & Jonathan Conick), one on business (Andy Wilson) and one on public sector and voluntary organisations (Geraint Rowland), or Portal Support Officer (Simon Dunford). They identify and attract new authors and users into the portal environment and by becoming the single point of contact at all stages of development, they are able to forge strong relationships with the network of authors. After identifying new authors, they develop each one over time through individually tailored one-to-one and group training sessions. Each author can progress at their own pace according to their IT skills.

To ensure that the community continue to influence and be part of the portal's development, quarterly workshops are held with both the community and businesses authors. As well as providing a great opportunity to meet, network and forge relationships with other Webster authors, they work together to generate ideas to improve the portal from its general look and feel, to the actual content areas it contains, as well as coming up with new ideas for marketing and promotion . This has ranged from adding the Webster logo and their individual Webster URL to their flyers and newsletters, to offering to come along to events and hand out leaflets or even wear the costume!

A Project Board meets bi-monthly and has responsibility for the on-going development of the portal. The project development areas are as follows:

• Business (http://www.webster.uk.net/businessservices)
• Community
• Public Services
• Sustainability
• Communications and Marketing

Each group meets on a monthly basis, is responsible for producing and implementing a development plan for the respective areas of responsibility, and is made up of internal Council representatives including the Webster team and representatives from the community groups, local businesses, public and voluntary sectors. The chairs of each group then attend the bi-monthly Project Board to update on progress, identify issues and seek collective resolution to problems.

ICT Accessibility For All through webster.uk.net


Levels of PC ownership and internet access within Torfaen have historically been below average, so the Council has needed to increase accessibility with a number of simple to use public access points. The project has installed 29 Kiosks throughout the borough in locations such as community halls, schools, leisure centres and even a local pub, ensuring that Webster.uk.net is also available even to those who don’t have access to the internet.

http://www.webster.uk.net/websterkiosks

In addition to being able to ‘surf’ the information on Webster, users are able to pay their council tax, business rates etc, complete housing repair requests, report a minor crime and browse the library catalogue and reserve a book… all online through the Webster kiosks, thus improving their access to the local services the Council offer. Example:

http://www.webster.uk.net/housing

Over 2,500,000 pages have been viewed on the kiosks since March this year, making them a valuable resource for the community. The portal currently has 3362 registered users and this number has increased steadily on a month-by-month basis. During September 2005 the portal had 8075 visits, 2894 unique visitors and 655147 pages were viewed. This has increased steadily over the last year as the portal has developed and we continue to pro-actively market and promote the portal to encourage its use. Due to continual development and redesigning of the portal, including the introduction of a comprehensive A to Z of domains, information has been organised in a logical manner so that users are now quickly finding the information they are looking for and are spending more time on their selected areas of interest rather than clicking from page to page.

Comprehensive ‘Portal Pack’ for Content Authors

To be the first port of call for information and services in Torfaen, the Portal needs to have an army of local Authors creating pages of content. Anticipated as being a major challenge, the Objective One funding allowed for the development of a Portal Package to encourage the community to participate. Authors would typically be provided with:

• A new Dell PC
• A broadband connection
• A Webster email account
• A training programme in IT skills and use of the Portal software
• Continuous access to an Outreach Worker

Authors need to be able to develop Portal pages no matter what their level of ICT literacy and the Webster team Outreach Workers provide thorough training in the use of the simple Content Management System (CMS). The CMS removes the need for Authors to be proficient in HTML and has enabled those who were only familiar with a word processor to generate vibrant Portal pages.

At present there are over 300 authors with areas (known as domains) on Webster. The number increases weekly and the range of content is now extremely diverse from local football teams to sci-fi, and from bird-watching to martial arts and poetry!

http://www.webster.uk.net/creativewriting

http://www.webster.uk.net/janesrag-rugs

http://www.webster.uk.net/torfaenkungfu

LGC Community Involvement Award 2006



www.webster.uk.net

Webster.uk.net, Torfaen’s Online Community Portal, is a resource developed for the people of Torfaen, built by the people of Torfaen. Officially launched on 24th March 2004 and sponsored by the Council, the project focuses on the use of ICT to:

• Foster community development
• Promote and improve the IT literacy of Torfaen’s citizens
• Increase the economic prosperity of local businesses

The initial phase of the project was funded by European Objective One money and led by Torfaen Council. This funding phase ended on 30th September 2005, and I am pleased to say that the success of the portal has meant that the Council has committed to the long-term provision of the service by bringing all necessary resources in-house.

Webster’s official launch was attended by the Rt. Hon. Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for Wales who said: "Projects such as Webster fit in with the Welsh Assembly’s philosophy for Wales, which is that communities and businesses alike should be encouraged to ‘jump into IT’. Webster is a top class Objective One project."

The project initially targeted two of Torfaen’s most deprived communities, Thornhill and Garnsychan, before being extended to the wider borough. It now provides Torfaen with a comprehensive electronic resource that is used by individuals, clubs, groups, small businesses, internal departments and strategies, and other organisations as a local gateway to a world of information and services. To ensure that the portal is successful, the key is to ensure a large volume of content and a high level of usage in the locality.

Webster.uk.net Torfaen's Online Community Portal aka Webster


Webster.uk.net is Torfaen’s (Cwmbran, Pontypool, Blaenafon) Online Community Portal, an electronic resource offering a one stop shop of information relating to everything happening within Torfaen. The project was launched in 2003 and has been very successful so far in its aim of increasing the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) within the county.

The project was born out of a necessity to bring the population of Torfaen in line with the rest of Wales and the UK with regards to ICT skills and awareness. Via the portals content management software local people are able to create their own web pages allowing direct involvement with its development making this project one which truly is created for the community by the community.

The provision of free PC’s and broadband as well as the installation of touch screen Webster.uk.net kiosks throughout the borough has tackled issues specific to the local area including social inclusion and bridging the digital divide.

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