A COMMUNITY cyber cafe, thought to be the first of its kind on Teesside, is being created in two redundant school classrooms.

The Mannion Suite - named after local football legend Wilf Mannion - is being created by regeneration organisation South Bank Tomorrow at St Peter's School, South Bank, Middlesbrough.

When it opens next month, it will provide 25 personal computers and a range of other IT equipment for use by people of all ages.

Yesterday, community representatives were given a sneak preview of the technology being installed by IT company Alpha Lan Systems.

The cafe grew from a simple idea from South Bank Tomorrow chairman Graham Hubbard of providing a room with two computers where residents could use the Internet.

"It has become a bigger venture than anyone imagined. It will allow residents of South Bank to access a level of technology that many other people take for granted," said co-ordinator Linda Ackroyd.

The project has received money from the Department for Work and Pensions, the Single Regeneration Budget and funding under the Disability Discrimination Act.

It addition to computers, the suite will have a TV, video, DVD, PlayStation and X-Box machines, a small bistro and soft seating area.

Ms Ackroyd said: "We believe the Mannion Suite will become a very important community facility, not just for its computers, but as somewhere people can seek advice on issues such as work, training, benefits, health, or simply pop in for some company"

Alpha Lan, of Stockton, works extensively in the education sector and previously helped St Peter's School develop its IT facilities.

Linda said: "We know a little about computers, but such is the level of technology that it has still been a leap of faith with Alpha Lan. We have been very impressed, not just by their understanding of what we are trying to achieve for the people of South Bank."