Trident Social Investment Group was awarded ‘project of the year’ at the recent InMotion event run by Kirona and Xmbrace DRS for its ‘digital by design’ DI programme. The other housing providers short-listed for the award included CityWest Homes, Coastline Housing and Town & Country Housing Group.
Trident reported that it had faced many challenges over the last few years but none as testing as the pressures imposed by Welfare Reform. The main aim of the digital by design project was to increase the use of online services as well as ensuring that Trident’s tenants have the opportunity to become digitally literate and confident with technology. To this end, Trident’s IT team even gave up their own time to deliver training to tenants.
The desired outcome of the project was to increase the IT literacy of Trident tenants so they could use online services, many of whom have come from the homeless route or have English as a second language. Realising the threat of proposed Welfare Reform changes, the team wanted to use their own skills to help tenants access online services and become more digitally included.
42 computers for tenants’ use across eight sites were installed, as well as finding a number of local internet cafes and libraries with computer suites. The team has delivered state-of-the-art facilities to support some of the most vulnerable people across the Midlands by providing them with the skills and confidence to get online and preparing them for the ‘digital by default’ changes introduced from 2013 onwards.
The Trident IT team ensured that the computer facilities were fit for purpose and met the wide-ranging needs of the tenants. The technical specifications can also not be underestimated, ranging from 3-D graphics, office software, video software and broadband (100Mb uncontended upload and download), all delivered through flat-screen PCs and high specification desktop computers.
Trident’s results speak for themselves:
- The suites have seen a massive increase in usage, with the facilities being used by over 1,300 people, with requests for new courses increasing every week;
- 60+ basic computer skills and employment-related training courses have been delivered by Trident’s IT team, in addition to their full-time jobs;
- A 32 per cent growth in the use of online tools available from Trident and increased communication with tenants as well as reaching tenants with long-standing arrears for whom back-dated benefit claims have been achieved;
- A large number of digitally-excluded tenants living in one of the most disadvantaged areas in the UK now have better opportunities for employment and education.
Ann Rivera, director of organisational development, Trident Social Investment Group, said, “Being online is a very important factor for work, learning and recreational use. Good digital skills and access to technology allows us to benefit in many ways such as saving money through online shopping, paying bills and gives access to new opportunities. We are very proud that our programme has delivered these benefits for our residents.”
One Trident resident commented, “As a frequent user of the community computer room facility, I would like to thank and commend all of the IT staff for the newly installed equipment that is helping us tenants in our job searches and business start-up activities.”