Loaning Tech to Tenants
In 2020, FCHA was given the chance to collaborate with Digital Communities Wales and provide tablets on loan to tenants in supported housing.
The project initially involved 4 tablets being given to tenants who felt isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic to help them connect with friends and family online. FCHA also organised weekly quiz sessions and Zoom parties for all tenants, including those who received the technology in the beginning.
Digital Inclusion Scheme
Building on the success of its loan scheme, Digital Communities Wales, with funding from The Senedd, saw the potential to provide additional devices to FCHA tenants. This time, the devices were given as gifts instead of loans, offering tenants more freedom to use the technology as they saw fit.
207 laptops, ipads and mobile devices were provided to tenants with a learning or physical disability who were identified as needing more support with digital inclusion. All were provided with how-to-use guides and were offered support by Digital Communities Wales through their tech support team who could help tenants navigate through any issues they had with the tech. Over 20% of FCHA tenants benefitted from the Digital Inclusion scheme and, from this, FCHA and Digital Communities Wales have been investigating the positive wellbeing outcomes of the initiative.
Feedback: Phase 1
Conducted in 2021, phase one of feedback from Tenantsshowed that more tenants were now engaging online with communities such as GP and local activities, families and FCHA. Over 75% of those who responded mentioned that they wanted the tech to keep in touch. You can see all of the results below:
The participation in the Digital Inclusion project was high and the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. You can access a YouTube video featuring interviews with tenants:
As well as our own Digital Inclusion Scheme video, ITV interviewed one of the tenants about their experience within the scheme:
Feedback: Phase 2
In 2022, a second round of feedback was collected from Tenants. The level of engagement between tenants and their technology had been less than the previous year. A reduction in the impact of the pandemic on communities across Wales meant that tenants who were using their digital tech to talk to their families and friends were able to go out and meet them in real life. Those who were still using their tech however, had learned new skills and engaged in activities that would not have been possible without access to online tools, education platforms and their own email.
7 Days of Digital
Those who provided feedback in the second round shared more in-depth information about the specific activities they engaged in. This encouraged First Choice to start small scale impact assessments on some properties that have been most active in their use of technology.
The 7 Days of Digital saw tenants write diaries about how they use their devices over a 7 day period and how it affected their day to day life. These quotes below show the positive impact of providing people with the tools and knowledge to utilise technology in a digital environment:
We would like to thank Mirus, the support provider for the tenants at a Swansea property, for assisting them with their 7 Days of Digital diaries.
The future of Digital Inclusion
The 7 Days of Digital project is still underway, with Drive supporting 12 tenants at First Choice properties. We're eagerly anticipating the results of this project, as we did with the Swansea participants a few months ago.
The results from the 7 Days of Digital survey will assist us and Digital Communities Wales in determining which technology works best for our tenants. It will enable us to provide customised equipment and support to meet each tenant's unique technology needs.
If you are a tenant or a support provider who has been utilising technology, please reach out to David Bingham at our housing office for a 7 Days of Digital survey to share your experience. You can email him at email@example.com
Looking further into 2023, FCHA is going to be conducting more interviews and more 7 Days of Digital surveys to improve and tailor future digital inclusion experiences for tenants.
With the assistance of Digital Communities Wales, First Choice are also conducting a number of Digital Heroes short courses. A couple of tenant communities were identified as having not used their technology as much as they would like. Because of this, Digital Communities Wales are offering bespoke Digital Heroes training based on specific tenant needs in those communities. This will include things like: how to connect to the internet independently, creating an email address and accessing local online services such as a GP appointment.
To support tenants with a physical disability to develop their digital skills, First Choice has become a referral partner for Clicksilver Connections. Clicksilver Connections is a digital mentoring programme for people who need a hand with technology and are maybe feeling isolated from connecting with others online. If someone wants to learn a digital skill, they will be paired with a mentor who will support them over the phone for 4 weeks and build up their confidence. If you are interested in learning more about ClickSilver Connections, please contact our Health and Wellbeing Coordinator, Eve. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
We cannot wait to share more of our progress with everybody interested. If you have an experience with digital tech that you would like to share, or are interested in learning more about the Digital Inclusion strategy, please feel free to contact us.