Wigan centre gets £25k internet boost for free thanks to national firm's boss

A national firm has provided a real boost to a Wigan centre supporting young adults with additional needs by providing a £25,000 super-fast internet connect for free.
Prince Edward visited The Hamlet last yearPrince Edward visited The Hamlet last year
Prince Edward visited The Hamlet last year

The Hamlet, based at Three Sisters Recreation Area in Bryn, has had problems with internet access since it opened two years ago to help people progress to full-time employment or voluntary work.

Gemma Crompton, head of provision, said: “Because it’s quite remote the internet connection was really poor.

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“One of our vocations is a printing business so we needed really good internet to download images and run software, which was a big barrier for our young people. They were getting frustrated that our internet wasn’t working.

“We had an IT team working with us who tried everything.”

Mrs Crompton was told they would need an FTTP line, a type of broadband using fibre optic cables which delivers faster internet speeds.

But it would cost £25,000 so she decided to put it on the back-burner.

However, Mrs Crompton saw the young people needed better internet access to develop their skills and progress the printing business, including to set up an online shop.

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She decided to write to Clive Selley, CEO of telecommunications firm Openreach, for advice on what she could do.

And she was both delighted and stunned when he replied just a couple of hours later offering to install the FTTP line for free.

Mrs Crompton said: “I’m speechless at what he has done. We wouldn’t have been able to do this for a very long time, being a non-profit organisation. I’m absolutely over the moon and can’t praise him enough.”

She said everyone from Openreach had been “absolutely phenomenal” and “really informative” during the installation process.

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Mrs Crompton said: “It’s going to shape the future of The Hamlet. It will progress the young people’s skills for going into future employment and give us more avenues that we didn’t have already.”

Mr Selley has also invited her to speak at a conference being held virtually later this month.

Andy Whale, chief engineer for Openreach, said: “We hope that having a full fibre connection and some of the fastest, most reliable broadband speeds in the UK will enable The Hamlet to continue the fantastic work they do supporting young people to gain experience and skills.

“Every single member of our team who visited The Hamlet, whether surveying, digging or cabling, was bowled over by Gemma’s drive and passion. She is truly remarkable.

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“It’s vitally important that every person is given the chance to grow, develop and be the best that they can be so my team is also fund-raising to assist with future broadband costs or anything else needed.

“We wish The Hamlet the very best of luck as they continue to build and grow.”

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