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Tenants set to get best of the internet

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

'Cyber Sentinel' to protect children's online activity 'Cyber Sentinel' to protect children's online activity

Social housing tenants in the Tees Valley area are being offered roadshows to help them learn how to get the best from the internet.

Erimus Housing and Tees Valley Housing, part of Fabrick Housing Group, and Housing Hartlepool and Tristar Homes, part of Vela Group, have installed ten new internet kiosks in a range of locations across the region.

The equipment gives tenants the opportunity to access the internet and benefit from getting online, and now members of staff will be on hand to give people a helping hand at some of the bases.

As well as learning how to use the kiosks, residents will be able to find out the benefits of using the internet such as increasing social networks, saving money through comparison websites, shopping online, claiming and checking benefit entitlements and using online services such as reporting a repair, paying rent and bidding for homes.

Helen Millar, 55, from Billingham, said: “It’s great to have access to the internet; it’s really easy to use and you get find out lots of things at the touch of the screen. Once people use it once, they will want to use it over and over again.

“We have lots of young people who will love it and we have a lot of older people who will be able to get online for the very first time.”

The accessible booths have been installed as part of Teesside ResiNet, a scheme operated in partnership between Fabrick Housing Group and Vela Group, Go On Boro and Middlesbrough Football Club Foundation.

ResiNet aims to help thousands of residents across the Tees Valley top up their technology skills and manage more of their life online, thanks to £40,000 from the government’s Digital Deal Challenge Fund, which is match funded by the housing groups.

Alongside the kiosks, which include one in a rural location, ResiNet offers free internet training for residents and is paying for three apprentices as ICT community engagement champions and training for 60 volunteer digital community champions.

More than 50 champions have already been recruited and some have started training to enable them to officially teach other people about how to use the internet and its benefits, through a recognised qualification.

The ultimate aim of ‘Teesside ResiNet’ is to help more than 1,000 residents confidently use the web and to bring free internet access to more than 2,500 urban and rural social housing residents. The scheme is one of only 12 nationally to receive funding from the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department for Communities and Local Government’s Digital Deal programme.

Chris Joynes, head of operations for Fabrick Housing Group, said: “Having kiosks that are accessible to anyone is the next step in giving even more people the opportunity to get online, which is one of our major priorities.

“The apprentices have already supported scores of people to help them become more confident with the internet and these people are now realising just how they can benefit from getting online.  

“We hope as many people as possible will come along to these drop-in sessions to learn how to use the booths and discover just what they can get out of being able to surf the worldwide web.”

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