Homeless and unemployed people in London’s Canning Town are being supported by Anchor House’s ‘Aspirations’ programme which uses technology to combat poverty and social exclusion.
Anchor House, which has developed from a basic hostel to a pioneering centre of excellence in the homeless sector, launched the Aspirations programme to move its 200 residents from computer illiteracy to literacy in order to improve their chances of being accepted into society and jobs.
Keith Fernett, director, Anchor House, said, “A lot of our residents have taken the wrong path in life, resulting in imprisonment or addiction. The technology that we provide encourages them to take responsibility and be accountable for their lives again.”
Despite having no in-house IT expertise, Anchor House knew that it needed a modern, IP-enabled communications system for both residents and staff. IT services company Foehn was brought in to design and implement the IT and communications infrastructure.
Fernett said, “We knew what we wanted to achieve, but had been searching for a suitable IT partner for more than 12 months. We needed a company that would give us a strategic platform for growth, a modern communications system, and then manage it for us.”
Foehn successfully implemented Anchor House’s new infrastructure, which included:
Pre-payment VoIP telephone system for residents (incl. voicemail) using an IP PBX to deliver a low-cost, flexible system;
In-room IP-based TV systems including custom content;
Swipe-card room entry, controlled access to public areas and CCTV for improved accountability;
Internet and wi-fi areas with control policies for use;
Standard Microsoft applications, such as Office and Exchange/Outlook, for Anchor House staff.
The programme has had a dramatic effect on Anchor House’s operations, with better staff productivity and improved rehabilitation of residents. Fernett concluded, “People can’t get a job these days without computer skills so we ensure our residents have this box ticked. In fact we have to actively close the computer rooms down at midnight so we can get residents to bed. By providing these services, our residents’ prospects and aspirations are improved and the effect of Anchor House on their lives is greatly increased.”