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Digital bus helps residents get onboard with the internet

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Digital bus helps residents get onboard with the internet


Published by lpriest for Progress Housing Group in Housing and also in Communities, Education, Universal Credit

Progress Housing Group's Digital bus with staff and residents in Preston, Lancashire. Progress Housing Group's Digital bus with staff and residents in Preston, Lancashire.

Residents who were out and about in South Ribble or Fylde recently will have seen Progress Housing Group’s digital double-decker bus rolling into their communities.

The internet bus encouraged nearly 60 Progress Housing Group residents to get on board and get online using its very own computers and free Wi-Fi.

Residents ranged from computer savvy 16 year olds to a 90 year old resident from St Johns Court, a sheltered housing scheme in Lytham St Annes, who had his first ever experience using a computer.

The double-decker bus made nine pit stops to various Progress Housing Group communities, including sheltered housing schemes in Leyland, Longton, Penwortham, Walmer Bridge, Wesham and Freckleton as well as community centres in Penwortham and Lower Lane in Freckleton.

Setting up an email account, checking their rent account, shopping online and finding long lost relatives are just a few examples of online skills residents gained when they came on board.

Phil Lloyd, a tenant from Penwortham, said: “I’ve really enjoyed being on board the bus; it has been a great experience. I have learned how to upload photographs onto Facebook and surf the web.”

The internet bus launched Progress Housing Group’s Digital Futures initiative, a campaign to get more residents online and improve web skills. A number of free computer tenant zones in community centres, offices and sheltered housing schemes will give residents access to the internet, including the housing group’s online services. The initiative also includes training a team of ‘digital champions’ who will provide one-to-one training and support to help residents get online. A training programme for tenants, starting in January 2014, will host a variety of workshops, including an introduction to the internet, how to be safe online, and how to research your family tree online.

Kate Henderson, Senior Community Involvement Manager at Progress Housing Group, said: "We are delighted with the impact our digital bus has had - it was a great way to kick off our Digital Futures programme. There were some really positive outcomes from the digital bus, including one customer reconnecting with her cousin in Australia using Facebook. Another customer learnt to use her iPad, which she had previously been unable to use. We hope to make a difference to even more customers' lives over the coming months as we roll out our programme of training, tenant zones and digital champions to help get our tenants online."

Progress Housing Group recently beat off stiff competition to receive £20,000 from the Government’s Digital Deal Challenge Grant towards the cost of the campaign. The Digital Deal is aimed at encouraging more social housing tenants to get online, improve their skills and benefit from wider internet services. Progress Housing Group was only one of 12 housing providers to be awarded the funding. The initiative has also received funding from Progress Housing Group’s Community Investment Fund.


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