Charity registered in Scotland SC028506
Atrium Homes is a registered social landlord and Scottish charity, supplying, managing and maintaining over 1,250 affordable rented properties across nine different towns in Ayrshire. It is a ‘not for profit’ company. Atrium is a financially sound, well run and highly regarded organisation and is considered to be low engagement by the Scottish Housing Regulator which we have been advised is a reflection of Atrium’s effective management of its operating risks. Atrium is fully committed to providing good quality housing at affordable rents, while creating communities which are pleasant for people to live in and raise their families. We believe our customers are key and put them at the core of everything we do. For 18 years it has provided services to its customers and has a highly experienced management team, staff and Board.
- From 1st September 2018 to 31st March 2019
- Award: £8,821 via Call 6
Atrium would like to deliver basic digital skills to its customers. While we think digital inclusion is important in its own right, we are also keen to address other issues that working age and younger people may face, such as the need to access information and services, the need to apply for benefits online, the ability to search for employment and the need to make the best use of limited finances.
Through an initial consultation event, we will understand the kinds of barriers to getting online that affect vulnerable people and to find out more about what people want from the internet. We will then develop relevant ‘hooks’ in response to local needs and interests to attract people to weekly drop in sessions. The sessions will be designed to be engaging, fun and informative and based on the type of devices most people are familiar with. Sessions will be repeated multiple times to ensure that participants can be kept to a small number and initial assessments will allow people to be grouped together based on skill levels.
Following the consultation Atrium will develop a timetable of weekly drop in sessions (over a 5 month period). These will be co-ordinated and delivered in the first instance by a newly recruited Digital Assistant. The Assistant will look to identify individuals who attend to offer additional training and capacity building to develop them as a peer tutor/ digital champion. Atrium will support the Digital Assistant with its own existing staff, dependent on the level of take up of the service.
In addition, there will be one to one sessions available to offer tailored support to individuals who would like assistance on a specific topic. These will be offered on the same day, but in appointment slots.
Complete recruitment of Digital Assistant, hold consultation event and develop timetable of sessions
Evaluation of progress to date/take up of customers to allow potential re-shaping of project if required or promotional push
Have engaged with 60 people
Staff and volunteers trained as Digital Champions to deliver basic digital skills as part of normal service delivery
Following the appointment of our new Digital Assistant, we began to promote the availability of the service. To try and make the service separate from our mainstream landlord activity, we 'branded' the project differently and gave it its own identity with t shirts, flyers, calling cards and promotional banners. Flyers were sent to all our tenants, we promoted weekly through our Facebook page and staff promoted through their face to face contact. We also advertised locally in the community centre and other shops. Initially, we promoted both one to one sessions and workshops focussed on specific topics.
Take up of this new service has been slow with relatively few people simply approaching the service for assistance. Leads have tended to come from referrals from staff . Often people who require digital support have been identified by staff's interaction with them around their Universal Credit claim or methods of communication.
Once engaged , there has been more interest expressed through one to one sessions rather than group activity .We have found that people who have used the service are struggling to meet the foundation skills in the first instance and much of the initial time spent is working on these basic requirements . Working at the individual's own pace , it can take some time to embed these foundation skills , however it is essential to not rush this stage to ensure we can build confidence in the individual and set them achievable goals. Our experience has been we are reaching more people in an older age group and therefore work on foundation skills is required.
In moving forward , we have also offered workshop session on topics such as internet security and are looking to run a future session on finding employment. We will continue to promote the availability of the service through a mix of media and are now conducting a basic survey of skills as part of our new tenancy sign up and money advice service. The Digital Assistant is also now visiting a number of local groups carrying out presentations on the service and assessing the need/ interest to take the service out to customers as opposed to operating from our office base.
Making the Connection - Atrium Homes
Prior to Project implementation, Atrium Homes had identified the requirement for an external resource to staff the Project , a Digital Assistant, to ensure a dedicated commitment to progressing further milestones. During the early months, a job description and person specification were developed and the post advertised. Approaches were also made to local colleges and the post advertised locally. Following interviews we were successful in making an appointment in early December with the Digital Assistant coming in to post on 14th January 2019.
In parallel with the recruitment process, we wanted to find out more from our customer base about their digital skills and type of equipment most used. To do this we launched a Digital Survey at a pop up event on 21st November 2018 ,held within our offices, promoted on social media, our website and throughout our communities by flyers and other advertising. At the pop up event customers were able to find out more about the service, obtain a range of information leaflets and have the opportunity to win a new tablet. In addition, we ran a further survey competition for those with existing digital skills asking more about the type of further support they might require and offered a tablet to win also .
We've raised the profile of the service, and continue to do so, by an ongoing digital survey promoted at every customer interaction and incorporated questions into a recent comprehensive customer satisfaction survey. This feedback has allowed us to plan out the service we will be offering and now staffed we are able to start its implementation.
Whilst we went through the recruitment process we have taken the time to develop a database of interested parties who will be a priority for support for the newly appointed Digital Assistant.