If you fancy using your IT skills for a worthy cause, then a new scheme could be right up your street and could even benefit your career in the process.
IT 4 Communities is a national initiative launched today to encourage professional IT staff and organisations to volunteer their skills in the community.
The first stage will focus on developing an online community for those interested in getting involved.
A website has been set up to provide guidance and resources for would-be volunteers, and a regular e-newsletter will provide information on volunteering opportunities.
Regional groups will be set up over the next 12 months to allow volunteers to exchange ideas and good practice.
Ultimately, the plan is to hold an annual conference with awards for the most innovative and effective projects.
Speaking at the launch, Stephen Timms, Minister of State for E-commerce and Competitiveness at the Department of Trade and Industry, warmly commended the initiative.
"It is the government's aim to encourage more organisations to adopt socially responsible activities," he said.
"IT 4 Communities is a great example of how the IT sector can use its expertise to address the digital divide.
"I am delighted to see the IT industry getting involved to make a real difference to some of the more disadvantaged groups in the community."
The scheme is by no means limited to hard core techies, and anyone with good IT skills can get involved.
IT 4 Communities is being promoted by key organisations in the sector including the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Intellect, the British Computer Society, Business in the Community and Citizens Online.
Currently most decisions to get involved in community activities are ad hoc, according to research by Citizens Online. IT 4 Communities aims to become a major recognised channel for the sector's investment in the community.
"The range of organisations involved means that we have a direct link to the companies and individual professionals in the sector," said Intellect president David Jordan.
"We want it to become the norm for IT companies and individuals to volunteer their skills because it is enjoyable, it is good for the community and it can benefit your business."
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