L&Q housing association is launching a year-long digital inclusion programme for 150 of its residents, just in time for national Get Online Week (October 13-19)—the annual campaign to inspire people to get online.
L&Q, which owns more than 70,000 properties in London and the South East, will be delivering the digital skills project, called Digital 400 (D400), with training provider, Silver Training. It is being funded by a grant of £53,000 from the L&Q Foundation.
D400 will initially offer 150 residents without computer skills bespoke IT training as well as free equipment and a year’s internet access to help improve their access to life changing online services, money saving sites and employment enhancing computer skills.
An internal survey last year showed digital exclusion to be an important issue for L&Q residents with 37% of 2,243 respondents having no access to the internet and 46% of these being in receipt of some form of benefits, which must often be renewed and can easily be done online.
Mark Rowe, L&Q Financial Inclusion Project Officer, says:
“Our digital inclusion project was set up to help residents use online services in the wake of the Government’s ‘digital by default’ strategy, which will see most government transaction services, including applying for Universal Credit, move online during 2015.
“As an organisation with a social mission it is vital for us to ensure that all of our residents have equal access to opportunities and are not left out in an increasingly digitally dominated world.”
The course will be held in local community buildings or L&Q offices with two-and-a-half-hour sessions once per week for a month. Residents will learn how to use a keyboard and mouse, set up and use an email account, browse the internet, use search engines, comparison sites, shop online, manage benefit claims, do job searches and applications. There is also the option to gain a City & Guilds entry level 3 IT skills accreditation. Travel expenses, a potential barrier to learning, will be covered with a £5 per day allowance.
On successful completion residents will be able to consolidate their learning by gaining support to set up an internet connection at home, a dongle providing 12 months of free internet access and a recycled PC with Windows 7 and Microsoft Office.