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Why digital inclusion is important to Newport City Homes

From Julie Gower, Community Investment Officer, Financial and Digital Inclusion, Newport City Homes

Digital Inclusion is important to Newport City Homes (NCH) as we are committed to providing all residents with the opportunity to be digitally included, as we see the benefits to them accessing online services. This can help to enable our residents to access appropriate financial and digital services and support. This can be achieved through providing digital access where possible; developing our residents’ knowledge of financial awareness and promoting effective online money saving products and spending choices.

By signing up to the Charter, NCH hoped to continue its digital work within its communities and continue to develop partnerships to allow this to happen.

We deliver a number of digital inclusion activities, including:

• Launch pad – this holistic employability training programme for residents, which is run for two days a week over a four week period, will allow attendees to improve their employability skills including digital skills. Attendees will be encouraged to use tablets to make notes and search appropriate websites. If they complete the course they will be gifted with a tablet.
• Digital Heroes – Newport City Homes, in partnership with Digital Communities Wales, came up with the idea to provide a digital programme which rewards people who help others learn new digital skills within a school environment, at home and in the wider community. This was achieved by designing the Digital Heroes project, with the aim that pupils are rewarded for achieving and improving their own digital skills.

Since signing the Charter, our Regeneration and Community Investment team attended the Digital Champion training run through Digital Communities Wales. Seven members of staff completed the accredited training and are now confident in delivering digital sessions to residents. Lisa Ash, Community Investment Officer, says “I now feel that I can actually help people to develop their digital skills”.

The Digital Champion training has enabled staff to become more efficient in their digital work, by teaching them new skills and techniques and to gain confidence in facilitating their own courses. We are also helping people become more confident about finding work. Launch Pad, our employability project, enables residents to become more confident in their digital, financial and life skills. It was first trialed last year, with eight participants completing the course. Four of the participants had never worked before, and two were long term unemployed. Of the eight people who took part in last year’s course, six are now in full time employment, and one is in a long term voluntary placement.

In addition to the Digital Heroes project we were able to offer ‘keep your child safe online’ courses to parents at the school. These sessions were well attended and highlighted further digital requirements which have been addressed.

We have also worked with our sheltered schemes to enable the residents to learn basic digital skills, which enabled them to surf the web, talk to family members who live away, do their shopping online and become more aware of social media and the benefits of being online.