New digital inclusion partnership in Kent!

A man standing at the front a room full of people, gesturing with both arms. He is stood in front of a presentation slide titled "Activity highlights: Communications and outreach"

We’re working with a consortium of housing providers across Kent, to enable residents to use the internet and develop their digital skills. The consortium includes Town & Country Housing Group, Orbit, West Kent Housing Association and Golding Homes. The work is being part-funded by the Big Lottery Fund as part of a programme of work called One Digital.

The overall aim of the new partnership is to improve tenants’ basic digital skills, and their confidence to access online opportunities and services. Almost half of those who are digitally excluded live in social housing. Digital inclusion can give tenants more choice and control, and better access to lower-cost, improved services.

Getting started

The new partnership will begin with a research and partnership development project within Kent, focused on digital exclusion issues within the social housing sector. We’ll produce a detailed evidence base of the digital exclusion issues, focusing on some key areas, leading to an action plan for tackling these issues.

We’re working with the group of Kent Housing Associations using our award-winning Switch model. Switch is an evidence-based approach to digital inclusion, targeting resources where they are needed, rather than where it is easy to deliver. We work mainly with and through existing organisations, rather than setting up new independent providers or sessions of training and support.

One goal is to increase housing workers’ engagement and confidence in delivering digital inclusion support through recruitment and training of Digital Champions. Digital Champions provide one-to-one support to those needing help to do more online.

Joined-up thinking

John Fisher, Chief Executive of Citizens Online, says:

“We have been impressed with the Kent consortium’s willingness to work together on a joined-up solution to this difficult issue of supporting digital skills. We want to change the way local service providers and funders perceive the issue of digital inclusion — from being a ‘bolt-on activity’ to a way of working that is part of business as usual.”

Stuart Ilsley, Head of Service Transformation at Town & Country Housing Group, says:

“We are aiming to support and encourage collaboration between social housing providers and other statutory, third sector and commercial organisations within Kent in support of digital inclusion activity. Partnership is the only sustainable way to tackle this issue.”

To know more

If you have any questions or comments about this post, or if you would like to know more about our Switch offer, please contact us. We would love to hear from you.