Shropshire broadplaces are a network of 35 community IT facilities throughout the county. Originally set up as part of the 'Switch on Shropshire' project, they offer local residents, businesses and visitors access to broadband, computers and a range of other equipment.
Through the Broadplace Steering Group, local communities decided where they wanted their local facility to be hosted. Venues included village halls, post offices, tea rooms, pubs and even a fire station! Many are run with the support of local volunteers who facilitate drop-in sessions, clubs and other activities.
The broadplaces are there for everyone, whatever their age, ability or interest. The informal nature of drop-in sessions has made them very popular with those new to IT, and the community focus has encouraged new groups such as family history and digital photography clubs to flourish. For young people who don't have access to broadband at home, a number of broadplaces run homework clubs after school.
Most of the broadplaces offer a wireless network and meeting facilities, so local businesses and organisations are encouraged to hire the venues which helps to sustain local activities. Visitors to Shropshire can make use of the wireless facilities to download emails and find out about local events.
The broadplaces were established as part of the Switch on Shropshire project (2003 - 2007). They were funded by European Regional Development Fund and Advantage West Midlands. The project was managed by Shropshire County Council in partnership with the Community Council of Shropshire, BT and Business Link West Midlands.
The broadplaces are now maintained thanks to funding from Shropshire Council, and have the support of a full-time council officer and the council's IT Services.