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Mind Monmouthshire help service users to get online

Mind Monmouthshire provides tenancy support, both in houses which it manages, and in clients’ own homes. The support enables people who have mental health problems to maintain their own tenancies and live independently. In the supported houses, tenants remain for a maximum of two years and then (hopefully) move into their own tenancy.

Mind Monmouthshire provides a home for 25 tenants in total, and have a further 50 in ‘floating support’ across the county.

One of the aims of the tenancy and supported living provision is to move most of the service users towards independent living. When ready to move on, service users need to be digitally capable to enable them to bid for properties using Homesearch. Properties are released on a daily basis, without the skills to do this service users may be missing out on properties, as all bids must be made online.

There was no focused digital inclusion activity taking place to support this, although staff provided support to service users as and when the need arose, usually in the local library or other venues where there was equipment and internet access.

DCW developed a Digital Engagement Improvement Plan to enable Mind Monmouthshire to provide digital support to its service users. One element of this was through the loan of ICT equipment.

Mind Monmouthshire submitted a proposal for the short term loan of kit from DCW and was successful in being loaned 2 Laptops, 2iPads and 2 Android tablets.

Since accepting the loan of the ICT equipment from DCW, Mind Monmouthshire has engaged 25 service users who had very little or no experience of accessing the digital world.

The scope of work completed has ranged from basic keyboard practice, (where the client is allowed to familiarise themselves with the functionality of the mouse and keyboard), through to accessing the internet and completing searches to aid in digital and financial inclusion.

As a result of the DCW Digital Engagement Improvement Plan, all of the supported living houses now have Wi-Fi installed and the password is available to tenants and visitors to the properties. All support workers have been inducted to ensure that they remind all clients of internet safety and the dangers of identity theft, accessing inappropriate images/ materials and potential financial fraud.

The equipment has also been used to register 18 of these clients on Homesearch so they can register their interest in obtaining a tenancy.

Mind Monmouthshire also continues to support a client who, because of their index offence, has been court ordered to not access the internet. Through the use of the laptops and tablets loaned to Mind Monmouthshire, the organisation has been able to re-engage the client with online services in a supervised environment.

New service users have been encouraged to get an e-mail address and have been shown how to use the library equipment to ensure these skills are maintained.

Mind Monmouthshire have also learned useful lessons about how to engage their service users with digital technology. Plans to get service users to use digital media to tell their story and help others overcome the stigma against mental health, has not been a success. Understandably, the service users asked were too nervous and this project did not go ahead.

Because of the loan of the ICT equipment, Mind Monmouthshire has been able to gather information about what digital equipment it should purchase itself. It has now purchased three new laptops, with a view to obtaining more. This equipment will be used to engage the service users in ICT moving forward.

Client JG wanted to go to an event in Cardiff, but had resigned himself to not attending as his mental health was impacting on him and he could not get his mind around the logistics of attending the event. As he suffered with social anxiety and had limited means, he was aware that he would have to take public transport; something that filled him with fear. His support worker discussed this with him and he agreed to access the Dr Who Experience site and do some research. As the weeks went on and JG gathered more and more information, his anxiety levels lessened. He was very nervous about how to get there, so was shown how to find train and bus timetables, research which was the less busy option. JG was also encouraged to access self-help sites on the internet and social media groups for people with similar likes to expand his social circle.

JG has since moved from supported living to his own property, (social housing), be he still keeps in touch sporadically by using his email. This email was also created as part of the undertaking with the ICT equipment loaned.