Digital exclusion can often heavily impact on health, education and employment. The majority of this group tend to feel excluded as they can’t afford to own a computer at home. 88% of the digitally excluded say they would be more confident if they had help. This is an issue that the Get Online at Home consortium have strived to solve. The consortium, made up of Computer Recyclers, Ecosystems, Stonegroup and Simplify Digital are backed by Microsoft and work with organisations such as Newydd Housing Association. Digital inclusion is a key focus for Newydd and Get Online at Home has provided Newydd tenants and those in the local community with access to the internet and quality devices at a discounted price.
Get Online at Home is part of Newydd’s digital inclusion programme, and in addition to this, they run a Loan I.T. scheme which runs alongside the Microsoft backed initiative. The purpose of Newydd’s scheme is to allow tenants to gain confidence in their digital skills as well as allowing them to discover the true potential of going online. Tenants who attended five ‘digital drop-ins’ or have completed an accredited course through Newydd, are then eligible to borrow a recycled laptop and a dongle with £10 credit on it per month for up to three months. However, this is only the short term solution which prepares them for a longer commitment through the Get Online at Home scheme. Through this, individuals can get access to affordable internet (though Simplify Digital, part of the Get Online at Home consortium) alongside a free device. This allows individuals to consolidate their digital skills over a sustained period of time which in turn, opens them up to better opportunities in employment and education.
As a result of working with Get Online at Home consortium member Computer Recyclers, 25 tenants have loaned a laptop, 3 went on to purchase the laptop after the loan period had ended, 4 purchased a new computer and 3 tenants have purchased a tablet since the programme started. These numbers are set to rise due to the offer of a free device when purchasing a low cost broadband contract. One of these tenants is Janet Rees, who partook in a range of IT support schemes that Newydd offer. She decided to purchase a laptop through Get Online at Home after she had taken part in the Loan I.T. programme. She explains how this benefitted her;
“I took part in Newydd’s accredited training programme. It was there I learnt about the fundamental computer skills needed to move around the computer and internet confidently. In comparison to the others in the class, my level of progress was much slower in comparison therefore I registered an interest in Newydd’s Loan I.T. scheme to practise my skills outside the classroom. From the first day I took the I.T. equipment home I could see massive improvements in my skills and confidence, therefore after the first week of loaning the laptop I enquired about purchasing it through Get Online at Home.”
As a result, Janet now runs a depression busting group and is responsible for all secretarial duties including writing letters, creating posters, and researching local services for the group. None of this would have been made possible without Janet participating in the get Online at Home programme alongside Newydd’s digital inclusion programme.
Scott Tandy, Community Partnership Officer at Newydd describes the huge impact that Get Online at Home has had; “I believe that the impact of this project has been truly life changing. Feedback from tenants has said it has supported them into further education, allowed them to access new job opportunities, and reconnect with friends and family through social media. I only hope that the project continues to provide affordable I.T. equipment to those in most need with the support of Computer Recyclers UK and other digital partners.”
Newydd is a great example of a housing association that is leveraging the Get Online at Home programme which is having a hugely positive impact on the lives of their customers.
For more information, please call Marcus Griffiths on 01443 434675, visit www.getonlineathome.org or email email@example.com
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