History of ITCanHelp

The History of ITCanHelp is the history of its founder, Ken Stoner.

"In 1986, at the age of 52, Ken was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Due to the onset of the condition he was forced to retire from his position as Chief Engineer of a drilling rig manufacturer, running the Design & Development Department. He therefore needed something to occupy his mind with all the spare time during the day - as watching TV all day was not for him! Although in a wheelchair permanently and unable to speak except through his laptop synthesiser, he knew there was much he could offer the disability community. Having been well trained as an engineer, he decided to put his skills to use and became a REMAP Engineer.

He had needed help from his son, who is in the computer industry, to set-up his own computer equipment. He then realised that many other people may also need such help but wouldn’t be as fortunate to have someone available with appropriate skills. He therefore thought of setting up a volunteer computer support network.

This was when, in 1992, he joined the Board of The British Computer Society Disability Group (BCS-DG) , becoming Vice Chairman of BCS-DG and Leader of what was to become ITCH Network. He worked for two years developing the scheme and then, in 1994, launched an 18 month pilot study covering three counties, Berkshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire. This gave valuable insights into the running costs and the administrative structure required to run the project successfully. It also proved there was a definite need for this type of initiative.

The pilot study also highlighted the need for independent fundraising to supplement the financial support being given by the BCS-DG. This additional support is important to enable us to meet our target of completing a national network. ITCanHelp now covers more than 50 counties throughout the UK, with more being added each year.

Sadly, Ken passed away in 2006, but his ideas and enthusiasm for helping those less fortunate are being continued by ITCanHelp. An Obituary for Ken can be read by clicking 'here'.

What's in a Name?

Initially, the Network was known as ITCanHelp. Some years ago, a new logo was devised and the name changed to the ITCH Network. However the Management Group become concerned that this name was not helpful in helping people to understand our purpose and work and so it reverted to ITCanHelp.

Becoming part of AbilityNet: a new chapter

The BCS press release from September 2011 explains how ITCanHelp became part of AbilityNet.

Linking ITCanHelp's extensive network of volunteers with existing advice and information services has added a signficant element to the help that AbilityNet can offer disabled people. Some may want to download factsheets, or ask for advice from the free helpline, but many mroe can now ask for someone to visit them in their home. For many people this will provide the practical help that will help them make the best use of computers and the internet.

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