In the second of our Focus pieces on digital inclusion, Liverpool Mutual Homes chief Steve Coffey outlines the work his organisation is doing.
We recognised the importance of digital inclusion at a very early stage and are determined more tenants are given greater access to new technologies.
To raise awareness of this issue, this week we are partners in a seminar called Go ON It’s Liverpool; Digital Champion Celebration – a fringe event as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Congress where Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson is speaking.
It is vital landlords do all they can and their work offers something for tenants of all ages.
We hold IT training with Jobcentre Plus at work clubs held in our tenants’ and residents’ association offices to make tenants more employable. More than 100 tenants have benefited so far.
Our sheltered housing co-regulation and scrutiny group the Positive People’s Platform has been so successful that tenants now have specific roles to focus on, one of which is IT.
We gave the six IT champions laptops and they teach their peers a wide range of skills.
As part of our electric blanket project – a scheme enabling residents to create their own 21st Century art using film, video, photography, audio and digital media – tenants are writing a musical explaining how new technologies are affecting people’s lives.
The PPP now has its own website and we empower tenants by letting them manage it and blog on their experiences to help others.
Tenants have partnered with local drama groups to produce and star in plays around issues such as how to spot signs of Alzheimer’s disease, heart attacks, bogus callers and the abuse of elderly tenants by carers.
The plays have been filmed by tenants, uploaded and spread on YouTube and LMHtv – our online video channel.
LMHtv was created nearly 18 months ago and has been a huge success integrating different generations of tenants.
It is run in partnership with the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology and tenantspin - a long standing community media programme.
It offers tenants the platform to record and air issues that are important to them and their communities and the chance to make create, film and star in films and develop careers in the industry.
As a result, a group of youngsters have embraced the opportunity to get involved in our wider work and have formed their own formally recognised tenants’ and residents’ association.
Of course internet access is a major issue social housing needs to address.
To give more tenants the opportunity to get online, we are piloting a scheme with a broadband provider whereby free wi-fi zones will be created which we hope to extend across our 15,000-home stock.
The sector needs to evolve quickly to ensure we are offering as many opportunities as possible to tenants; the potential, like the challenge, to develop our digital inclusion work is endless.
Digital inclusion is the subject of Inside Housing’s Focus debate this week. You’ll find a range of articles and resources on the subject on our Focus page, and can join in the debate in the forum or on Twitter using the #digitalinclusion hashtag.