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Housing association's internet project targets social isolation

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Housing association's internet project targets social isolation

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities

viridian viridian

A housing association has team up with an IT training company and a charity to provide free internet training to its tenants, in an effort to combat social isolation.

Viridian Housing - which manages more than 16,000 homes in the Midlands, West Sussex and London - has joined with firm Student@Home and charity U Can Do IT to provide training to 300 residents aged over 50.

Through the new partnerships, Student@Home will provide one-to-one internet training in tenants' homes using a tablet computer. And for those with complex needs such as visual impairments, U Can Do IT will provide specialist support.

Interpreters will also be provided for residents whose first language is not English and all trainers will receive Dementia and Vulnerability training.

Funded by Viridian as part of its social impact agenda to help improve the quality of life for its customers, all of the training with be provided for free.

Additionally, those taking part will receive post-training IT support as well as a guide to buying tablets and broadband to support long-term internet use. The housing provider will also be offering free mobile phone training for residents, whether they are a beginner or want to learn more.

Kelly Klein, founder and CEO of Student@Home, said: “It is a really exciting and innovative project that ties in with Student@Home’s core social values. The training will have a positive impact for residents and help reduce social isolation for hundreds of residents across the UK."

Matt Campion, Viridian's director of social impact, added: “While it is exciting to be part of the technological world, for those who are not part of this or who are falling behind, it can feel frightening and confusing which can add to feelings of helplessness, loneliness and isolation. Our pilot study showed that not only are our older residents keen to learn but that during the pilot, 70% of the residents trained had already shared their skills with someone else, which will further help to combat social isolation and share valuable skills needed in this technologically focused world.”

Viridian’s digital inclusion strategy was created after a survey which that an estimated 40% of its tenants did not have access to the internet, the majority of whom were older people living independently in their homes.

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