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Post-lockdown, how can the sector build a digitally confident, inclusive community?

Sponsored by Hyperoptic

Inside Housing and Hyperoptic recently held a webinar on how social landlords can improve digital inclusion. Watch the recording below to find out what was discussed

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Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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When asked whether their organisation has a plan for the 2025 goal of gigabit capable connectivity, 61% said they had not thought about it (sponsored) #UKhousing @Hyperoptic

.@HACTHousing research found that of those likely to be digitally excluded, 37% are social housing residents (sponsored) #UKhousing @Hyperoptic

“When planning your road map for digital transformation, agree your priorities: connectivity, data, customer need, infrastructure or applications,” advises Debbie Trust Dickinson @HaltonHousing (sponsored) #UKhousing @Hyperoptic

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Internet use rose to an unprecedented high during lockdown this year and the online behaviour of the nation radically changed.

Although the number of non-users is decreasing, those who do not go online tend to be aged 65 or over, disabled and most have lower incomes, according to the Office of National Statistics.

This could be an issue for social landlords that are not only moving the services they offer to tenants online, but also relying on it to maintain social distancing and help tenants to access online education and training programmes, apply for jobs, stay in touch with people, and pay their rent.


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A webinar, chaired by Inside Housing editor Martin Hilditch and sponsored by Hyperoptic, explored how digital transformation can be achieved, as well as the social value to a community being digitally equal and more efficient.

Participants discussed how social landlords are upgrading existing homes with gigabit broadband to meet the 2025 goal, future-proofing new developments and offering tenants access to low-cost equipment.


Inside Housing and Hyperoptic webinar: the speakers

Kathy Valdes, managing director, Digital Unite

Ms Valdes has been working with a variety of organisations to tackle digital exclusion for more than 12 years. Established in 1996, Digital Unite is one of the UK’s leading providers of digital skills learning and is the only organisation that focuses exclusively on vocational training and support for ‘digital champions’.


James Prowse, strategic account manager – public sector and social housing, Hyperoptic

Mr Prowse has worked in commercial property since 1993, dealing with office and industrial lettings, purchase and development, corporate real estate and pursuing business development opportunities. Since 2013, Mr Prowse has worked with partner organisations within social housing and new homes development to help build their communities through the inclusion of a gigabit-enabled broadband network.


James Williams, head of impact, HACT

Mr Williams joined HACT in 2017 as head of social impact from Onward, a 35,000-property housing association operating across the North West of England. He spent more than 12 years with Onward working on delivery of community investment projects, strategies, evaluation and impact measurement.

Mr Williams is particularly interested in how organisations can embed social value systematically from within to improve outcomes for communities.

He is currently working on a roadmap for the future of social value measurement in the social housing sector; leading the HACT and Simetrica-Jacobs social value training programme; and producing social impact assessments, frameworks, calculators and reports.


Debbie Trust-Dickinson, chief operating and transformation officer, Halton Housing

Ms Trust-Dickinson oversees Halton Housing’s transformation programme, including the next iteration of its digital offer, creating the right IT infrastructure, and strengthening the association’s brand and reputation. She has a strong focus on leadership, talent, well-being and culture.

She also provides strategic leadership to ensure customers are at the heart of what Halton Housing does – providing safe, well-maintained homes in thriving neighbourhoods as well as ensuring compliance of their homes and all aspects of customer experience.

Ms Trust-Dickinson joined Halton Housing in January 2020, bringing extensive experience in programme and project management, and she has led transformational change in director roles in a number of sectors.

Sponsored by Hyperoptic
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