Page 9

BUILDING BLOCKS FOR BETTER COMMUNITIES

WinnerChampioning Digital Inclusion

Connecting the people who need it most: Berneslai Homes helps tenants to get online

THE NEED In 2012, Berneslai Homes ran a survey which showed only 42 per cent of its tenants were online, despite the impending welfare reforms and plans for a ‘digital first’ approach for access to services.

THE SOLUTION Recognising that this lack of digital access could have serious consequences, the ALMO set out to tackle the issue head on. By involving staff, community groups, local partner agencies and residents, the ALMO launched a range of initiatives, including the Connecting Communities scheme for rural areas and sheltered schemes and Change Your Life by Getting Online IT and internet classes. These were made possible through: • Employing a dedicated digital inclusion officer • A successful bid for free mobile broadband from 3 Mobile • Two BT ‘Community Connection’ awards to install wireless broadband in community centres, providing tenants with free local access points • Links with existing local projects such as Get IT Together Barnsley • Maximising use of existing information, such as Digital Unite’s IT user guides

• Equipping community centres and sheltered schemes with refurbished PCs • Promoting the Get Online @ Home scheme which offers tenants the chance to buy affordable computers. Berneslai Homes’ informal and fun Change Your Life by Getting Online taster sessions tackle the barriers of motivation, lack of skills, confidence and cost that tenants face in getting online. A means of getting tenants involved is to focus on interesting topics like hobbies, shopping and keeping in touch with friends and family. Participants can also take short courses to help them make the most of the internet focusing on price comparison and utility switching.

THE RESULTS Berneslai Homes has worked with over 250 tenants and residents to date. Matt Lowe, digital inclusion officer, said: “Participants in our sessions feel welcome and valued. People have said they have ‘enjoyed every minute’, even the ones who initially thought themselves ‘too thick’ to use a computer.” Results include: • 100 per cent tenant satisfaction with Change Your Life by Getting Online, with 91 per cent of participants wanting to learn more • Broadband connected to six sheltered schemes so far • 40 events held, including Age UK’s iTea and Biscuits Week, the Pan-European Get Online Week and Spring Online (formerly

Silver Surfers’ Week) • An ‘intergenerational’ learning event between students from Barnsley College and members of the Barnsley Federation of Tenants, which included how to use Facebook. Future plans for the scheme include a Skype-enabled bingo game between two tenant groups, employees volunteering as digital outreach workers and roadshows to help tenants affected by welfare reform to find information and support online.

THE JUDGES

“Berneslai Homes’ approach is highly replicable. A well run project and good use of a small budget.” KEY LEARNINGS • Here Berneslai Homes has proven that effective digital inclusion doesn’t have to cost the world. The very fact the Connecting Communities scheme began with only six laptops goes to show what can be achieved from small beginnings. • Berneslai Homes also made shrewd use of existing resources such as IT guides, national initiatives and partnership projects and financial support schemes such as Get Online @ Home.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS PROJECT Matt Lowe, digital inclusion officer • T: 01226 772724 E: matthewlowe@berneslaihomes.co.uk

| 9

NFA Best Practice Guide 2013  

This is the NFA Best Practice Guide 2013, produced annually by Acceleris on behalf of the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA), the trade body...

Advertisement