The big moment finally arrived! At 16:00 our booth in Vienna was literally overwhelmed with people that were curious to find out what telecentre-europe is about.

Ian Clifford, our hard working co-chair, opened the 'ceremony' introducing the video he had assembled himself and hopefully - Ian said - "it will help you to understand why we are so passionate about what we do".

Ian: "We all know people that are digitally excluded, as this is about our fathers, sisters and friends. At telecentre-europe we believe these people deserve not to be left behind, we think they are missing out a number of opportunities. Not having access to new technologies results in limited chances on education choices and makes people limited in their lives as parents or consumers."

After the movie, Ian explained that the telecentre-europe network was formed in April 2008 in Riga and since then has known a massive response that has been growing 'day by day'. Untill today, 160 community members have joined the social network site, representing 70 organizations from 25 nations across Europe. "All together these people and their organizations represent 20.000 telecentres, so the scale and speed of this growing network has simply been astonishing" Ian said.

Ian finished his speech talking about Lukas, a young boy that is deaf in 1 ear was bullied at school for his handicap and left school with very low aspirations. After he followed a training course at UK online centres, the life of Lukas turned right again, as Lukas said: "I now have the qualifications and I know again what to do with my life. I want to help others to do the same and I am determined to push myself beyond the limit."

Ian: "The work that telecentres do across Europe is responsible for those kind of live transforming experiences, and boosting people's confidence is what drives us to do what we do."

Then the micro was passed on to Paul Timmers, Head of the eInclusion Unit and Directorate-General for the Information Society at the European Commission, "the leading light of the commission in terms of e-Inclusion", as Ian introduced him.

Paul Timmers congratulated the birth of the telecentre-europe network and said he strongly believes that "from working together you will find out what resources you have to share, so you can jointly build leadership and accelerate the delivery digital inclusion. We need you as a European Commission, we wouldn't be able to do this well if you weren't there."

Timmers also said it's not true that digital inclusion shouldn't be a first priority anymore because of the financial crisis. "This is about people and I believe that by joining hands we are building real strenghts. We have high expectations from telecentre-europe and we hope we will continue to work very closely together" Timmers said.

The next speech was given by Sylvie Laffarge, the European Community Affairs manager of Microsoft: "Although today's joblessness gives us little cause to celebrate, we would like to celebrate today the launch of telecentre-europe, as Microsoft has witnessed a tremendous progress of the network into an innovative and culturally diverse community of practice, a european movement for increasing chances and equality, and a gateway of knowledge sharing and exchange between NGO's".

Then it was time to give the word to one of telecentre-europe's members. Burcu Kilinc, a young webreporter representing Youth Association for Habitat (Turkey) talked about their local work with the highschool kids from Istambul and how European networking has made the youngsters "sing in portuguese, dance marrocian music and cook like the swedish."

UK’s Deputy Digital Inclusion Minister Wayne David closed telecentre-europe's launching ceremony with more nice words: "telecentre-europe is what you can truly call a 'good practice', fueled by an on going enthousiasm that we most certainly should sustain".

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Comment by Ian Clifford on December 5, 2008 at 14:10
Thank you Sylvie for your very kind words. Now it is indeed the time for action...
Comment by Sylvie Laffarge on December 5, 2008 at 10:56
An important step in Vienna:
We have all been the witnesses of an important moment in Vienna. Based on the comments and enquiries about Telecenter Europe I have received at the conference and since I return I am confident of Telecenter's bright future ahead. Both your leadership and dynamism are inspiring and I have been very impressed at the positive energy of each of the Telecenter Europe's members. We certainly all have an obligation now to keep up the momentum and show not only our common intent and effort but our tangible results and impact on the ground for the world to see. You are all to be commended for a job well done and I want to include Melissa who was there at the oncet and puts a tremendous amount of work in raising awareness of the network within and beyond the borders of our company. The challenge is now on everyone's shoulders to show how e-inclusion must remain a priority for all of us. So Ian, Gabi and the entire steering committee: Congratulations and thank you again. Sylvie

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