In a landscape where social isolation is common and financial pressure amongst older people on fixed incomes is increasing, Hanover Housing Association has been exploring different ways of encouraging its residents to enjoy the benefits of going online.
According to the ONS, 67 per cent of over-55s regularly use the internet, with the figure dropping to 35 per cent for those over-75. While there has been a huge growth in the use of smartphones across the UK, and with access to the internet in many household now commonplace, there are still many consumers who have limited access to the web, often due to affordability and a lack of digital literacy.
Thanks to a partnership between Hanover and We Are Digital training residents at Hanover Court in Colindale were awarded a grant of £8,550 by the Big Lottery Fund Awards for All Programme and a further £2,000 through Hanover’s own community grant programme, Greenshoots.
The funding has enabled Hanover residents to purchase 20 refurbished laptops, install a BT Phone line for internet access and has covered the cost of broadband at the property for the next two years. It has also enabled residents to attend a We Are Digital twelve-week training course and provided ten hours of private tuition for anyone unable to attend group sessions due to ill health.
One of the first residents to benefit from the lessons was 76-year-old Theo Asamoah who said: “The computer course has enhanced my computer literacy, and helped me and other residents to join the World Wide Web community. In addition it has also helped me and the other residents to socialise. I would like to say a special thanks to Greenshoots, the Big Lottery Fund and our estate manager who have made these lessons possible.”
Kevan Forde, Head of Service Improvement at Hanover Housing Association said: “With more and more social interaction taking place online, we wanted to make sure Hanover residents were suitably equipped and trained to take advantage of the learning and connectivity opportunities that the web brings.
“Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund we’re able to encourage residents to get online, where they can go about enhancing their social and support circles, as well as gain better access to essential services and activities.”
Matthew Adam, Managing Director, We Are Digital said: “The funding provides a fantastic opportunity for Hanover estates to start up ICT projects in their area, combining equipment, broadband and training – the three pillars of any digital inclusion programme. We’re very pleased to be working with estates as their training partner and hope to get an ever increasing number of residents online in the near future!”
The Big Lottery Fund supports the aspirations of people who want to make life better for their communities across the UK. They are responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery for good causes and invest over £650 million a year in projects big and small in health, education, environment and charitable purposes.