Lottery funding opens up the world-wide-web of possibilities
Published by Rebecca Mills for Longhurst Group in Education and also in Communities
John Farrar (centre), Chairman of Spire Homes, with members of the Customer Engagement team and members of the Learn4Life course using Cyber Space
Spire Homes have been celebrating this week following the award of a £9475 grant from the Big Lottery Fund towards their work to help more tenants get online to access vital services.
The grant was issued following on from Spire Homes’ drive to support their customers who are digitally excluded. A recent survey showed only 53% of Spire Homes tenants had web access at home, but over the last 12 months the housing association’s Getting Online initiative has focused on working with local organisations to improve accessibility and skills to people get online.
The support has provided funding towards bespoke IT courses, the newly launched Cyber Space, a re-furbished internet-hub housing 5 desktops at their head office in Rushden, refurbished laptops, dongles and 12 months internet cover.
The grant has also boosted Spire Homes’ bespoke training programmes, ‘Making IT Easy’ and ‘IT 4 Work’, which give residents the opportunity to improve their computer skills and learn about basic internet usage, through to greater levels of computing such as word processing and the use of spreadsheets.
A laptop hire scheme will also be launched to help tenants find employment, complete training or start their own business.
Tenants are further being encouraged to access Spire Homes services online with their hotly anticipated My Account service on their website where customers will be able to manage their tenancy 24/7 with access to their rent statements, contact details and other online features such as reporting a repair.
“We are absolutely delighted to have received this funding!” Said Samantha Wylie, Head of Customer Services at Spire Homes. “With the government’s push to being ‘digital first’ it is vital that as many tenants as possible have a good understanding of the internet as they will need to begin applying for benefits online in the near future.
“There is so much that our residents can benefit from if they get online and our Cyber Space internet-hub and training programme can assist with this. We hope that better access to employment and education, as well as money management tools and online savings will result in a better quality of life for all our tenants.”