A new Digital Champions Network for Housing was launched on Thursday 19 September 2013 to help housing providers support their residents to get online and extend their digital skills ahead of the introduction of Universal Credit.

The Network, currently comprising of 10 Housing Associations, represents a combined housing stock of 221,000 properties and over 455,400 residents.

Currently 4.1 million of those not online are estimated to live in social housing and a further 16 million people do not have Basic Online Skills*. With 80 per cent of all benefit applications planned to be online by 2017 and 90 per cent of all jobs requiring ICT skills by 2015*, being able to use digital technology is a must have in today’s modern society.

Powered by digital skills experts, Digital Unite and inspired by Affinity Sutton, an affordable housing provider in England, the Digital Champions Network for Housing (DCN4H) is an innovative online platform to create, develop and support Digital Champions in local communities. #

Building an army of Digital Champions – people who can help others to use the internet – is a sustainable and cost-effective way for Orbit Group, and other housing providers, to improve digital skills among their residents and tenants. This is a major challenge currently facing all housing providers in light of the Government’s Welfare Reform.

Extending the success and investment of the Affinity Sutton ‘Get Connected Project’, the DCN4H provides access to practical online courses, extensive teaching resources and a moderated community forum to support people with being Digital Champions. The functionality behind the DCN4H will also enable each participating housing organisation to track activity and management data to measure and evaluate its impact and success.

Kathy Valdes, Business Development Manager at Digital Unite said: “In the wake of the Government’s Welfare Reform, supporting residents to engage with digital technology and make it a part of their everyday lives is an immediate challenge for housing providers.

“The Digital Champions Network for Housing provides housing providers with a practical and comprehensive set of tools to develop their own armies of Digital Champions. Most excitingly it will provide the conduit to enable collaboration and knowledge sharing across the housing sector, at both management level and on the ground, to tackle the issues of digital exclusion.”

 

Further information regarding how to join the network can be found on the Digital Unite website