English | Cymraeg Tel: 029 2076 5760 Connect: Twitter

Digital inclusion – Engaging with digital

Kevin Howell explains Newydd Housing’s approach to digital inclusion

Newydd has a community partnership team whose remit covers a range of areas including digital inclusion, financial inclusion, health and wellbeing, education, employment and training, youth engagement and tenant involvement.

Digital inclusion has become a key focus in 2014/15 and the team was restructured with one community partnership officer to deliver an effective service on this key area to our tenants and local community members.

Like many housing associations, Newydd had previously undertaken a few smallscale projects to support our tenants to become more digitally included, but what we had not done was to make a focussed strategic effort, encompassing a range of partners, tools and areas. 

Digital exclusion can impact on health, education, employment and infrastructure, and with so many social housing tenants being digitally excluded, it is now a key focus for Newydd. The introduction of universal credit will obviously bring challenges for many tenants and it is hoped that the digital inclusion programme will engage tenants with the internet and develop their digital skills to be able to cope with the challenges ahead.

Below are the ranges of activities Newydd have carried out between April 2014 and October 2014.  All activities are ongoing. These were open not only to tenants, but also those living in the local community.

‘Spring Online with Newydd’

To attract local people to engage with Newydd to improve their IT skills we hosted five events in community venues to listen to what people wanted and needed from local provision. These events attracted over 50 people and gave us useful data to improve the development of our provision. Every person who attended was entered into a prize draw to win one of five tablet computers which was an added incentive.

‘Digital Drop Ins’ – non-accredited learning

Newydd ‘digital drop ins’ for tenants within our five sheltered housing schemes. These were extremely popular, with tenants having access to wifi to use the equipment. Volunteers run these on a weekly basis. This project has attracted over 45 tenants to attend so far.  Our tenants in our sheltered schemes all have free wifi access.

Digital Community Drop Ins

Newydd with Communities First (Barry) run a range of Drop Ins across the Vale. These have attracted more than 70 attendees since April 2014.

I.Tea & Coffee Project – accredited learning opportunities

These five-week workshops are run at various locations across Wales and cover basic computing, word processing (accredited aspect), email and using the internet.  So far 41 tenants completed this course and it is ongoing.  As a result of this intervention:

  • 100 per cent had improved IT skills
  • 100 per cent were more confident with IT skills
  • 100 per cent have an improved understanding of the benefits of IT
  • 25 per cent gained an accredited qualification

Loan I.T. project

Tenants who complete the I.Tea & Coffee project are then eligible to access Newydd’s Loan I.T. project, which allows them to borrow a recycled laptop and a dongle with £10 credit on it per month for up to three months. At the end of the loan period the tenant can buy the laptop and the tenant is supported and encouraged to set up a savings account to pay for this if they are interested. So far 10 tenants have taken up the option to borrow a laptop.

Digital champions

Newydd, Communities First (Barry), Communities 2.0 and the Vale Volunteering Bureau have set up a digital champions programme. This is for anyone wanting to support Newydd and partners in the digital engagement framework across the Vale of Glamorgan. There are currently 12 volunteers who attend quarterly meetings, discuss good practice and ensure there is consistency within digital delivery in the Vale. As an incentive, the digital champions can access a free training programme. All are encouraged to sign up to the ‘Volunteering Star’ which is an initiative set up by the Vale Volunteer Bureau to record volunteering hours.

Digital Group – Tenant Involvement

A request was put out to all tenants to try and establish a new digital inclusion group, to enable tenants to support Newydd to shape its future digital inclusion activities. A small group of tenants are now regularly engaged to support Newydd in all future digital inclusion activities.

Next steps

Newydd are not professing to be experts on digital inclusion.  However, our efforts so far have proved beneficial to many tenants and individuals within the communities in which we operate.

We have started exploring pilot broadband schemes and discussions on this will continue in the future. In 2015 it is imperative we support even more tenants to get online to ensure our tenants are not disadvantaged due to their social housing tenure. 

Kevin Howell is community partnership manager at Newydd Housing Association. Kevin.howell@newydd.co.uk. 02920 005475.

Sign up to our email newsletter

Every two months we'll email you a summary of the latest news & articles on the WHQ website. Better still, if you're a fully paid up magazine subscriber, you'll get access to the latest members-only articles as well.

Sign up for the email newsletter »

Looking to advertise in our magazine?

Advertising and sponsored features are a great way to raise your profile with our readership of housing and regeneration decision makers in Wales.

Find out more »