Getting more of our residents online

 Digital Inclusion

Digital inclusion: Helping more of our residents get online

Affinity Sutton is committed to helping more of its 160,000 residents access online services. Research shows that getting someone online saves them an average of £560 per year, and has benefits for education, employment and retirement. The introduction of Universal Credit later this year will also mean that going online is the only way to apply for and manage Universal Credit applications for the majority of those in receipt of benefits.

Our latest research shows that 69% of our residents now have access to the internet – which is growing but still below the national average of 75%. Unsurprisingly access varies greatly with age and those aged 18 -44 are four times more likely to have internet access than those aged over 75. 

As one of the largest providers of affordable housing in the UK, Affinity Sutton believes it has a pivotal role to play in bridging the digital divide for all of its residents.  We view digital inclusion as both a business and a moral issue.

In order to tackle digital exclusion at a sector level, Affinity Sutton has signed up to the Race Online 2012 business pledge and become a member of the Social Housing and Digital Inclusion Strategy Group where we are playing an active role in contributing to the delivery of their action plan.

‘Get Connected’ is Affinity Sutton’s campaign to get residents online, giving them the skills, motivation and access to the equipment needed to access online services on a regular basis in order to improve their lives.

First launched in 2011, it seeks to improve residents:

  • Access to computer equipment or internet connections;
  • Attitude towards and perceptions of the internet and its relevance in everyday life;
  • Skills, confidence and capability to use online services;             
  • Since its launch, the campaign has already had a big impact:
  • Enabled 703 digitally excluded residents to get online
  • Given away 50 recycled computers to residents and contacted a further 427 who applied for the scheme to see how Get Connected could help them
  • Set up four regional digital hubs across the country
  • Recruited 94 Get Connected Digital Champions from our communities
  •  Awarded £7,500 in community grants to projects across the country providing equipment, software and internet access.

In 2013 Affinity Sutton wants to build on this success with a new commitment to help even more residents Get Connected. This year we are partnering with Stone Computers to offer residents low cost recycled computers - complete with software - to improve computer access amongst its residents. We will also be relaunching our national competition for residents to win recycled computers.

A key part of our approach to tackling digital exclusion is through recruiting and training more Digital Champions. Affinity Sutton is working with Digital Unite to train and support an army of local volunteers to help other people get online in their communities.  This programme will offer training, ongoing support, equipment and grants to resident Digital Champions. Champions work with family, friends and their wider community either on a 1 to 1 or group basis to provide practical help, tailored to individual circumstances, engaging and encouraging people to see how using the internet can benefit them and become a part of their lifestyle. Over time, we plan to add further learning modules to the programme to equip volunteers with a wider interest with the knowledge to offer basic guidance and signposting on key issues such as welfare reform.

Key lines:

  • As one of the largest providers of affordable housing in the UK, Affinity Sutton believes it has a pivotal role to play in bridging the digital divide for all of its residents, seeing digital inclusion as both a business and moral issue.
  • Get Connected is Affinity Sutton’s campaign to get residents online, giving them the skills, motivation and access to the equipment needed to access online services on a regular basis in order to improve their lives.
  • Helping our residents Get Connected is just one way we are helping them get ready for welfare reform and the introduction of Universal Credit in April 2013 when new claims will need to be completed online.

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