BHA tackles social isolation with Berwickshire digital initiative
Berwickshire Housing Association (BHA) has launched a new initiative to help tackle social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic and, at the same time, improve the digital awareness of its tenants by loaning them 4G enabled iPads.
The Association received funding from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund to set up a digital device lending library in Berwickshire.
This pilot project is being run with a range of community partners lending tablet devices to help people get online. These can be loaned completely free of charge to those aged 16 and over for up to six months with no broadband required. Help and support is also available from digital champions within the partner organisations involved in the project.
Whilst the stock of 50 Android (Samsung and Lenovo) tablets will not meet expected demand, it is hoped the pilot will help demonstrate the value of increased digital connection across our communities.
Jennifer Mitchinson, BHA’s digital champion co-ordinator, said: “There are many benefits to getting online, particularly during this period of COVID-19 restrictions: video calls with friends and family, many local community groups are now offering their services online, music, films, radio, fitness classes, puzzles, quizzes, the list is endless.
“Since getting the library up and running in mid-September we have been busy getting tablets out to local residents with great results. One lender has been delighted by what a tablet can be used for and has downloaded an app to read books and has been keeping up to date with the news headlines. Another lender has hardly watched TV since getting the device and has been using zoom to connect with family and friends.
“BHA are passionate about digital inclusion and believe everyone should have the opportunity to get online. Many of those we are supporting have never used a digital device before, so please do not hesitate to get in touch if you are interested, ‘Let’s Get Digital Berwickshire’ is here for everyone!”
(Photographs taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic)