Dundee Social Enterprise Network
Here at Dundee Social Enterprise Network we put a lot of work into supporting and developing our member social enterprises. So we always love it when our efforts are rewarded by progress, especially when our members go digital. We had the pleasure of working with and learning from SCVO, both as a One Digital anchor organisation and a digital champion participant. The experience gave us a better understanding of one of the most important third sector programmes for digital learning and engagement in Scotland.
The digital landscape
Trust Housing Association
When I received the call to say that our development had been chosen to have Wi-Fi installed into all flats, communal areas and guest rooms it’s fair to say I was really excited. Then the co-ordinator brain took over … how do I get the tenants interested, excited and involved? It’s not always an easy task. The following day I was in an elderly tenant’s flat and she was talking about how she used to travel the world and how much she misses visiting other countries. The light bulb came on: if they can no longer go into the world then the world can come to them via the internet. I arranged a tenants’ meeting and focused on how using the internet allows them to open the door to the world from the comfort of their own homes. I arranged some taster sessions with ACE IT, a company who arrived with tablets and iPads for tenants to use. One of our tenants, Esther Parker, was quietly interested but like many others scared of breaking the tablet. After some reassurance that really this was quite difficult to do Esther decided to go for it and attended the class. Afterwards she was one word – hooked! Esther’s enthusiasm spread to other tenants and soon the development was alive with a digital buzz. Esther said they were now hungry for information. Esther is 79 years old and the chairperson of our Registered Tenants’ Organisation. She does a lot of organising and networking, not to forget her amazing baking. I explained to Esther how much being connected can help her with these things. Tenants started buying tablets and laptops, with others borrowing from their sons and daughters. Esther bought herself a tablet. We arranged more lessons which Esther attended and she learned to play her favourite game of Solitaire. Esther then learned how to use email and search engines and realised how much was out there that she hadn’t been aware of. She said the internet was like a giant encyclopaedia – you could find out anything you wanted to know. Esther learned to use Skype so she could speak to her family in Glasgow and watch her great-granddaughter grow up. Esther grew in confidence and is now one of our digital champions who share their knowledge with other tenants. Only today Esther learned how to download apps to her tablet – unsurprisingly for the star baker it was a new recipe one. A whole new chapter in Esther’s life, and many other tenants’ lives, has begun by connecting to the internet.
We had our launch day on the 16th June 2016 and a very good day it was too. We had a good mixture of tenants and guests and a lot of interest in the kiosk we have situated in our lounge. A few of the older tenants who don't have any IT equipment would come and sit down and have a look. There was one tenant who is 82 years old and loves jigsaw puzzles, I showed him that he could do jigsaw puzzles on the computer and that he could reduce or increase the amount of pieces you use to complete the puzzle. I could see that he was beginning to get interested. I have also had a tenant ask me to show him how to get onto the government website. By doing the Using Government Services online course I felt very comfortable going into the website and navigating the tenant through it. We have a tenant who wants to move to Helensburgh and wanted to see what it was like before going, we went online brought Helensburgh up, she saw the photos, read a bit about it. The next day she had got the number for a letting agency phoned them up and made an appointment to go and view a house, she got the number for a Trust housing development near Helensburgh booked a guest room for a few days so that she could go and spend some time in Helensburgh before deciding, this was all done online. The tenants feedback was very positive, to be honest she was blown away by how quickly she could pull everything together by using the internet.
Natalie is an Outreach Gateway Assessor with Citizens Advice. She’s also a digital champion with Digital Gwynedd and is keen to help people who need help with benefits advice or using the Internet. One of Natalie’s clients is Gwennan, a single mother of a disabled child, who came in to see Natalie in the mobile CAB unit. Gwennan had already applied for Disability Living Allowance for her child with Natalie and had been awarded High Rate Care. Natalie agreed to help her with a benefit check to see if she was entitled to any further benefits.
Gwennan was in receipt of Income Support because her child was under 5 years old, and she was also receiving Housing Benefit and Council Tax reduction. After Natalie completed a benefits check for her, she found that Gwennan could also claim Carers Allowance for looking after her child, increasing her benefits allowance.
To claim carers allowance Gwennan needed to make a claim online, but she was unsure how to use the system to do this. Natalie showed her how to go online and how to make the claim which she successfully did.
Gwennan was already using Facebook, but had not used the internet before to buy things, check and compare prices on websites or apply for benefits. Having Natalie show her how to do these things has made a big difference.
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