Digital Housing Hub - #digihousing

where social housing providers meet to help their residents embrace the web

Digital Deal update: Leeds Federated Housing

In this blog, Caroline Wilson - Tinder's Network Manager - talks buses, HUGO and Google the Dog!

As I come to the end of my visits around some of the Digital Deal projects I had time to reflect on some of the great an innovative projects that I have learnt about and had the chance to experience: this was no exception.

On arrival I was given a warm welcome at the new HUGO Centre and shown around the great facilities that being part of the Digital Deal has enabled them to open.  With a number of courses and events being run as part of the StartSomething Campaign it was obvious that the centre is being well used and they had a full range of events planned as part of the StartSomenting Campaign.  There was something for everyone from Jesse, a Neighbourhood Manager at Leeds Fed, spending the morning talking about what he loves to do in his spare time, buying and selling antiques online to a coffee morning and social media training drop in sessions for staff.

But the most exciting part of the Digital Deal Project though is yet to come with the launch of not just one but two Hugo buses - one large and one mini.  

The challenge of ‘buying’ a bus was not as simple as had been expected, but as Sue Jennings set to the task she managed to build up a great partnership with First Bus.  They have not only provided advice about the type of bus to buy and the technical spec they should be looking at, but are now providing garaging, maintenance and a driver! This enables Leeds Federated Housing to concentrate on their own areas of expertise.   The initial enquiries also resulted in another partnership being formed with Leeds City Council to pay for and maintain a ‘Mini Hugo Bus’. These buses will enable them to offer free wifi to communities right across Leeds wherever the buses can go.  In addition residents will be able to access online support whilst the bus is in the area. Sue intends to share her learning on bus purchasing on the digihousing hub blog in due course for any of you looking to go down the same route.

The buses and facilites at the new Hugo centre are being promoted with the help of the ‘Hugo Family’ including Google the dog, brilliantly telling their story of moving to Leeds and the trials and tribulations in their own blog  I for one will definitely be following their stories.

What my visits have proved to me time and again is that fighting digital exclusion requires organisations to engage with learners in a fun way and understand what interests the learners first and foremost to start the learning journey. It is as diverse as connecting with friends and family, picking up a new hobby, transacting online or following celebrities on Twitter. Then build up partnerships in the local community to ensure great buy in from a range of organisations to ensure sustainability and to widen the scope of a project.  

I am sure each of the Digital Deal Projects will bring lots of learning which can be widely shared across the sector to ensure more people become digitally included.

~ Caroline

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