Southside Connections Southside Housing Association Ltd

The Gathering 2018

Southside Housing Association Ltd

Charity registered in Scotland SC036009

  • From 16th November 2015 to 15th November 2016
  • Award: £10,000 via Call 3

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Project plan

Project description

This is a partnership bid with Glasgow Life/Glasgow Libraries, Glasgow Homelessness Network, Nan McKay Memorial Hall, Govan and Craigton Integration Network and Glasgow Clyde College. Southside Housing Association is the lead partner.

The project will take place within the Pollokshields and Cardonald/Craigton areas of Glasgow. The project broadly aims to support people currently not digitally engaged but who would benefit greatly.

Key elements of the project include:
Installation of Wi-Fi and IT equipment within 4 community bases; providing local, safe and welcoming environments for learning. The bases are community flats (or resident lounge within sheltered housing complexes) converted into common space for local people to come together and participate in positive activities. Current activities include easy exercise, storytelling, arts, and healthy cooking. By providing Wi-Fi and IT equipment we will be able to extend these activities to include digital learning. It should be noted that we have 3 other community bases with Wi-Fi, and we work in close partnership with the Nan McKay Memorial Hall as a welcoming base for learning. These spaces will be used within the project, however in order to reach the target groups outlined above, and a greater number of individuals, this project requires additional support in the form of further Wi-Fi installation, IT equipment and in-kind support from partners.

Delivery of a range of courses (by Glasgow Clyde College) within each community base covering the basic digital skills. By doing so we hope to provide people with the skills to improve their ability to connect with others, save money online, enquire and apply for benefits, carry out research and work together to improve, develop and connect within their local areas. We also envisage that by providing Wi-Fi people may choose to bring their own IT equipment to the bases at a time that suits them (outwith the structured learning/activity times).

We have completed the delivery of 3 courses, 2 in our Sheltered Housing bases in Pollokshields and one within our Berryknowes Base in Cardonald. 7 people attended each programme, all 21 attendees were taught the basics in using tablets, setting up their own email accounts, send and receive emails and searching online. Some participants brought their own laptops or tablets and used their own equipment to build their confidence and existing skills. We will be running another 2 courses over the summer.

Ensuring that people are not simply offered the opportunity of participating in digital learning and using Wi-Fi in their own time (within the bases), but that they are encouraged to connect with existing services and organisations, thus using the project as a foundation for creating pathways to these services and therefore greater outcomes for participants. These other services are currently offered within local libraries, Glasgow Clyde College, the Nan McKay Memorial Hall, Glasgow Homelessness Network and the Govan and Craigton Integration Network. We recognise the importance of ensuring people know what other support exists, which is why this project will be delivered in partnership. Each course incorporated a workshop delivered by Glasgow Libraries where all attendees were informed of the various services the library has to offer. All attendees were given the opportunity to refer themselves to the Glasgow Libraries IT workshops to continue their learning and utilise other services relevant to their needs.

Southside Housing Association (SHA) also purchased and donated IT equipment to other local services. We donated a Smart Board to the Glasgow and Craigton Integration Network (GCIN) to support them in delivering a series of ESOL and IT workshops. We also donated a number of tablets to the Nan Makcay Hall to support them in delivering a similar series of Digital learning workshops. By delivering this project we hope to address some of the barriers people find to going online. Some of which include “it’s too difficult to learn”; “it’s too expensive”; “worrying about privacy/viruses;”; “no connection/computer”’ (CarnegieUK Trust, 2013. Across the Divide –Tackling Digital Exclusion in Glasgow).

Prior to running these courses, Southside Housing Association coordinated a series of consultation meetings within each base and also distributed a feedback questionnaire to all tenants living local to our bases. The consultations and findings of the questionnaire revealed that a significantly high number of tenants were keen to take part in Digital Learning course but felt they were “too old now” or “it’s too hard to learn that stuff”. We also found that many tenants did not have the finances to install Wi-Fi in their homes and purchase equipment of their own. The local bases provide a safe and free space to learn and break down some of these barriers.

At the beginning of each course we asked attendees to complete a Digital inclusion questionnaire, this captured their current skill level and attitudes. We also asked all attendees to complete the questionnaire after the course had completed. We found that all attendees had learned a new skill and most were fairly confident in sending and receiving emails on their own. We observed a change in attitude, particularly amongst older participants who previously believed they were too old to participate. It is good to note that 6 of our older participants now attend the library once a week, use the computer their and also utilise other services the library has to offer.

We have just completed and 8 week Keys to Learn programme, delivered in partnership with Glasgow Homelessness Network (GHN) and City of Glasgow College. The programme works with people at risk of losing their tenancies due to debt, mental health issues, drugs, alcohol etc. The Keys to Learn programme introduces participants to different skills and pathways that could resolve or alleviate such issues. The programme includes cooking on a budget, learning digital skills, budgeting and debt management, managing stress etc. Part of the programmes is also to introduce participants to services offer by SHA and within the local community. For example, participants took part in a session with SHA’s Welfare Rights department and were presented with knowledge and information relevant to their needs. They were also offered individual appointments for additional support needed, in the same way, participants completed a session with the Epic 360 service which offer support to people living in Glasgow with budgeting and debt management. Participants have been encouraged to use their local community bases at meeting spaces for such services and to continue accessing the internet.



We held a review meetings after the initial 3 courses and were pleased with the results we had achieved. We were also pleased with the extent to which we supported other agencies to engage people digitally. We hoped to engage a high number of participants and agreed to actively promote the next two course on a wider level, reaching out to local community centres, the local church and promoting the coursed via more local services.

After the initial 3 course were completed, we held a review meeting with all stakeholders involved to evaluate our delivery and make recommendations for the next two classes. We agreed that we would incorporate and induction session prior to the next two courses. The people who were beginners would be placed on the Digital Inclusion programme delivered by SHA and those who had a basic skill level would be referred to Glasgow Libraries. We all agreed this format as we found that the original 3 courses were somewhat disjointed due to the various skill levels of participants. Some participants, with no skill level required 1-1 learning and others needed less support. Thus, we agreed that we would group the skill levels together.

At the end of the programme, a review meeting was held at each community hub where afternoon tea was provided for all the participants. Participant’s experience of the week was discussed and we encouraged feedback on the ways in which participants would like to see the programme develop further.

Similar to the initial review process, review meetings were held with participants and stakeholders to emulate our progress and make recommendations for future programmes. It was agreed that induction sessions proved to be extremely helpful to the delivery of the sessions and we could continue to work in this manner. It was also agreed that SHA would implement a drop-in service for those who had basic skill levels but need a little 1-1 support with a minor task. SHA also intend to pilot these drop-in sessions as a Job Club for those who need some assistance with or simply need the resources to look for employment online.

Lessons learned:
Having delivered a number of Digital Learning programmes there are a few issues that the Community Initiatives Team have identified that would help SHA to capture the most appropriate audience, deliver the programmes more effectively, and engage with a wider group of people.

Before and after each programme SHA asked participants to complete a pre and post evaluation questionnaire. The feedback we received from the questionnaires, our volunteers and through observation have highlighted: (depending on age group), certain participants prefer a “class room” type structured learning style, whilst others prefer a more relaxed gathering. Our feedback tells us that older participants prefer the latter and this understanding has been used and applied when we have delivered programmes within the sheltered housing and other areas with an older demographic.

We also gathered from those programmes delivered, that participants preferred learning in facilities with Smart Screens or TV’s with Casting ability. Participants preferred following instructions from the facilitator by watching a larger screen and they reported that it was easier for them to follow and keep up with the pace. We will, and have been, delivering programmes from those bases that have this facility over other facilities, where appropriate.

Other lessons learned are that not all participants want or need an 8 week programme of learning. Some, more able participants, have come into sessions to have minor IT issues resolved. For example, to learn how to attach or upload photos or CV’s onto an email. We observed this from many of our participants who attended a couple of sessions then did not return. As a result of this, we are now considering piloting a Drop In service or a Job Club to meet this need.

Our digital work is delivered in partnership with: