Trust Housing Association connecting the unconnected

Digital participationA digital revolution is taking hold at Trust Housing Association with the introduction of its Digital Participation initiative.

The aim of the project is to get more of its tenants online in order to increase their confidence in using technology and benefit from the social, health and economic advantages of being ‘connected’.

As part of the project pilot, Wi-Fi was recently installed throughout three of Trust’s developments for older people in Edinburgh, Callander and Motherwell. The installation at the developments includes a Kiosk terminal - which is a 23 inch tablet device – along with a helpline in the communal area, and Wi-Fi in each flat so that tenants have access to the internet as well as skyping friends and relatives in the privacy of their own home.

The three pilots were launched at events held during June which captured the imagination of the respective communities with attendees including tenants, staff, politicians, social work, local businesses and the Scottish Government’s digital consultant, Doug Melville.

Airdrie, Wishaw and Corstorphine, Edinburgh are also part of the pilot where Wi-Fi had previously been installed in their lounges along with access to some digital equipment. Trust tenants are playing a leading role in the project. Tenants sit on the project team while other tenants have volunteered to act as ‘Digital Champions’ and help and support their neighbours to learn more about getting online. The Digital Champions have been trained by consultants specialising in the use of technology for older people.

The project promotes the Scottish Government’s Digital Participation Agenda and Trust hopes to be able to roll out the initiative across the country in the coming years with assistance from grant funding to help meet some of the costs.

Rhona McLeod, Trust’s CEO, said: “Digital exclusion is higher in the over 55s than in the general population and we don’t want our tenants to be disadvantaged. We aim to support our tenants to be digitally capable and confident, and in achieving this to increase their social interaction and health and wellbeing. Being better connected and better informed opens up a new world for many.”

Esther Palmer (age 79), a tenant at Stockbridge, added: “There is a real hunger for this technology and I can’t wait to get started!”

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