West Of Scotland Housing Association Ltd
Charity registered in Scotland SC018486
- From 16th March 2015 to 16th March 2016
- Award: £9,901.36 via Call 2
This project will employ a part-time Digital Inclusion Communications Coordinator at our Inclusive Learning Centre. The ILC is an excellent resource and we wish to tackle barriers that prevent people from being online though utilising this resource to its maximum capacity.
Examples of proposed sessions and workshops at the ILC include: digital work clubs, IT classes, using tablets and apps, employability courses, job search, benefit claims (especially universal credit), financial support, paying bills online, online banking, homework clubs and literacy clubs.
In July 2015, WSHA employed a Digital Inclusion Coordinator (DIC) to work two days each week. It was agreed that the post would be split between outreach work and direct delivery from the G31 Centre’s Inclusive Learning Centre. A number of activities took place and have been broken down below.
To engage people aged over 60, the DIC worked in conjunction with WSHA’s Older Person Co-ordinator to identify digitally-excluded older tenants. Through consultations and focus groups, sheltered housing complexes in Cumbernauld and Stonehouse were identified as having a need for digital support. Communal Wi-Fi has been provided at these locations for 12 months through the funding received.
The DIC held weekly IT drop-in sessions at the Inclusive Learning Centre. This was heavily promoted in Barrowfield and the surrounding communities through the distribution of flyers to every WSHA household. New users were registered to the Kelvin College learning network and individual IT needs and queries were addressed. These drop-in sessions mainly involved assisting tenants with tablets and smartphones, covering areas such as camera use, Wi-Fi and using widgets.
Youth Organisation Digital Newsletter:
The DIC worked with two local youth organisations, South Barrowfield Youth Project and PEEK, to develop a digital newsletter with children aged 11-13. This was an eight week programme delivered from the Inclusive Learning Centre in Barrowfield.
The DIC worked with Healthy North Glasgow and Thenue Housing Association to assist in the delivery of an eight week ‘Health Issues in the Community’ programme to 10 benefit claimants. The DIC’s role was IT facilitation assisting participants to use word processing packages and to prepare power point presentations. The DIC worked with internal WSHA departments including Financial Wellbeing and Welfare Rights to identify tenants that needed assistance with job-searching and CV-building. This was done on an ad hoc, case-by-case basis and took place at the Inclusive Learning Centre.
The DIC carried out sporadic Digital Inclusion work at the Thriving Places weekly Tea Dance at the G31 Centre. This included delivering presentations on how to use social media and assisting individual elderly tenants and residents to use smartphones and tablets. The Tea Dances brought together older people and adults with learning and support needs. Occasional work was also carried out with WSHA tenants on the committee and tenants and residents groups to assist with online funding applications, and to set up email and social media accounts.
WSHA had strong existing links to groups of older tenants through the Older Persons Co-ordinator and the Club 60 programme. This made engagement with older tenants easier than initially anticipated. The Wi-Fi facility which was subsequently set up in two sheltered housing complexes will enhance social connectivity, facilitate caregiver support and improve the communication links between WSHA and tenants/residents. This in turn benefits WSHA, as it creates another line of communication with tenants, which can help minimise a number of housing and tenancy management issues.
The Jobs and CV writing sessions were valuable to participants as the DIC could offer one-to-one support delivering a service that met individual needs. Additional digital support was provided that was not available at local Job Centres, library’s etc.
Working in partnership with the Welfare Rights and Financial Wellbeing Teams when assisting these individuals assisted to alleviate a level of stress and anxiety that is often associated with job-hunting whilst considering the current financial circumstances avoiding benefit sanctions. One participant attended only 3 sessions before they were awarded a job.
A number of referrals were also made to partner organisations such as Jobs and Business Glasgow who offered additional support, employability services and courses for tenants.
Initially engaging with tenants who have disabilities proved to be difficult. However, as the post progressed the DIC engaged with tenants through specialist support agencies including the John Orr Day Care Services and the Accord Day Care Services. The DIC liaised with carers to assist with the installation of voice-recognition apps on devices and to assist with the use of tablets and smartphones. The DIC liaised with Kelvin College to provide a specialised tutor to work with adults with learning disabilities in a digital capacity. Referrals were also made to specialist services including the local Augmentative and Alternative Communication Service.
OUTPUT AND OUTCOMES
WSHA’s goal was to increase the number of tenants who engage with digital technology within disadvantaged communities with a focus on older people, people with disabilities and benefit seekers.
Through partnership work with Thriving Places and WSHA’s existing Older Person’s service the DIC engaged with 130 older people. A positive outcome from the project is the communal Wi-Fi which has been made available for 12 months at 2 sheltered housing complexes. In addition to the above noted positive impact this has made it also enabled the DIC to deliver informal IT Skills sessions to the tenants within the complexes.
The DIC assisted to:
Remove barriers to digital inclusion, e.g. cost, low confidence
Motivate tenants by bringing digital activities into their lives in a way that benefits them
Help tenants feel safe and confident using the internet, by providing simple and straight forward advice and tools
Combat isolation and loneliness by encouraging social gatherings with a focus on IT learning
People with Disabilities:
The DIC engaged a total of 35 tenants who have disabilities.
Engaged with specialist organisations including the John Orr Day Care Services and the Accord Day Care Services to identify tenants with disabilities who required digital support and assistance
Supported the John Orr Day Care Service to acquire specialised IT tutoring sessions from Kelvin College
Assisted tenants with learning disabilities with the operation tablets and smartphones
Made referrals to specialist services such as the Augmentative and Alternative Communication Service and Speech and Language to provide additional digital support to tenants
The DIC engaged with a total of 60 benefit/employment seekers.
Facilitated an 8 week programme in partnership with Healthy North Glasgow which sought to assist people in receipt of benefits to programme to challenge health inequalities within their communities
Raised awareness of the facilities available through digital means to access support services within their communities e.g. Job Clubs, Local Council Benefit Services, NHS Services etc.
Promoted learning and capacity building through online digital resources
Ran weekly job hunting/CV creating workshops to increase awareness of the different types of online job-searching platforms. These workshops aimed to increasing self-esteem and confidence levels by improving the individuals’ skills and experience of using digital services
The project had a number of successes but also highlighted areas for improvement moving forward with the digital inclusion agenda.
Things that worked well
Formed strong partnerships and working relationships with DIC/WSHA and a variety of partner organisations. These included Thriving Places, Thenue Housing Association, Healthy North Glasgow, South Camlachie Youth Project, PEEK, the John Orr Day Care Services, The Accord Day Care Services, Axis, and Jobs and Business Glasgow
Engaged with a wide variety of tenants and tenant groups to raise awareness of IT and digital services and to improve the digital abilities of service users
Delivered services tailored to suit individual needs allowing opportunity for services users to develop a level of trust and confidence working with the DIC
Raised awareness of the WSHA’s Digital Inclusion Service with partner organisations and internal departments to ensure staff had the capacity to identify appropriate referrals and to signpost to the service
Introduced free Wi-Fi to two sheltered housing complexes where a large number of tenants had previously faced barriers to internet access i.e. cost, ability confidence
Things that we would do differently
The initial promotion of the service was through the distribution of flyers to every household and newsletter articles did not prove to be effective. As the project progressed the DIC worked closely with partners to ensure the project was promoted in other ways i.e. attending partner services to deliver presentations and through word of mouth. However, from the offset this may have been a more appropriate way to engage with service users
The IT drop in sessions at the Inclusive Learning Centre were modelled on similar services in other communities however were at time poorly attended. Service-users may have benefitted from a more structured, focused programme of IT learning
The DIC operated two days each week. However, it is acknowledged that it was difficult to make a significant impact in some areas with this limited time to focus on the project. WSHA would aim to extend the number of days each week when the project operated to provide a better service to tenants and communities.