SCVO hosts event on digital participation in the housing sector

An event from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) digital project which works with social housing providers was held last week during The Gathering.

SCVO hosts event on digital participation in the housing sector

The Gathering is the largest free voluntary sector event in the UK, a place for people working in the sector to network, showcase what they do and learn from each other.

There were over 65 events taking part across the two days, which included an event hosted by SCVO Digital and three ‘digital motivators’ from SCVO’s project working with social housing providers.

Rory Brown from Govan Housing Association, Debs Allan from Linstone Housing and Ben Hallett from Hanover Housing joined SCVO Digital to talk about their involvement in a programme of work to help improve the Essential Digital Skills of their tenants. The session was split into three different topics and some key insights were captured from the panellists.

Asked ‘what’s your motivation for digital?’, Rory Brown said: “We have always seen Digital Inclusion as part of our wider Community Inclusion programme. Although it is important as a business for us to encourage people to engage with services online because of the financial benefits it entails, we have always been more interested in improving our tenants quality of life. Digital is only one aspect of life and we wanted to provide a holistic approach to inclusion.”

Responding to the question ‘‘Doing’ digital – what does it look like for your organisation?’, Ben Hallett replied: “We’re still taking our first steps when it comes to digital participation. We’ve committed to rolling out Wi-Fi in the communal lounges at our developments, this is ongoing at the moment. Building a digital programme across 22 local authority areas is tough so we decided to focus on Glasgow and Renfrewshire to get started.

“We’ve run some IT classes and started up a tablet lending library with help from the Digital charter fund. It’s been tough to find the resources to run classes but we’ve had help from Glasgow Clyde College and we’ve had some success getting volunteers involved in our classes.

“I’ve also spent quite a bit of time trying to get involved in local digital networks to find what’s already happening locally that we can signpost our residents to.

On ‘challenges (and solutions!)’, Debs Allan added: “Engagement: both from residents and staff members. Digital isn’t traditionally seen as something that is core to individual job roles – its seen more as an IT or wider role thing and staff see it as in addition to their core role rather than intrinsic to it. Also buy in from managers who see their staff teams already at full capacity.

“The Digital Motivator model has worked well with this – we motivate down and agitate up, to ensure that the message is out there that digital can make life easier rather than more complicated. In terms of resident engagement – we establish what they want and try to provide it, rather than assuming we know what they need.”

Aaron Slater, digital participation project manager at SCVO, said: “We’ll be running a similar session on 4 March at Scotland’s Housing Festival 2020, organised by Chartered Institute of Housing. We’ll be joined by Rory Brown from Govan Housing Association, Debs Allan from Linstone Housing and Jennifer Mitchinson from Berwickshire Housing Association, so come along and join the conversation.”

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