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£53k cash injection aims to put UK population online

The L&Q; Housing Association, which owns over 70,000 properties in London and the South East, has launched a year-long digital inclusion programme for 150 of its residents.

The organisation has given £53,000 in funding and will be delivering the digital skills project, known as Digital 400 (D400), with the help of training provider Silver Training.

The initial 150 residents, who do not currently have any IT skills, will be given bespoke IT training as well as free equipment and a year’s free Internet access to help improve their access to things such as online services, money saving sites and the skills required to gain employment.

“Our digital inclusion project was set up to help residents use online services in the wake of the government’s ‘digital by default’ strategy, which will see most government transaction services, including applying for Universal Credit, move online during 2015,” claimed the housing provider’s Financial Inclusion Project Officer Mark Rowe.

“As an organisation with a social mission, it is vital for us to ensure that all of our residents have equal access to opportunities and are not left out in an increasingly digitally dominated world,” he added.

A survey of L&Q; residents last year claims to have revealed that digital exclusion was an important issue for citizens, with 37% of 2243 participants having no Internet access and 46% being receipt of some sort of benefits, which often need renewing and can be done so online.

“I thoroughly enjoyed the course and would definitely say to people who have not worked with computers not to be scared. Whatever your age, take the leap and join a computer course. It opens so many doors,” said one resident who took last year’s D300 predecessor course.

Employment Prospects-Enhancing Skills To Be Taught

The course will take place in local community buildings and L&Q; offices as two-and-a-half hour sessions once a week for one month.

During these sessions, people will be taught how to use a keyboard and mouse, set up and use an email account, browse the Internet, use search engines, comparison sites and online shopping, manage benefit claims and complete job searches and applications.

Residents will be given the option to complete a City and Guilds entry level 3 IT skills accreditation and participants will also have their travel expenses covered to prevent any barriers to entry.

Welcomed By Digital Charities

As the scheme was launched in time for last week’s Get Online Week, hosted by digital skills charity Go ON UK, the charity has welcomed the news.

“At Go ON UK we are focused on promoting digital skills and empowering UK citizens to reach their digital potential,” claimed the charity’s CEO Rachel Neaman.

“The digital inclusion programme being launched by L&Q; is exactly the type of initiative that can make a difference,” she added.