A new level of support for housing providers is being piloted over the next few months as part of the Digital Champions Network for Housing (DCN4H) which includes a dedicated helpline to link learners with their local Digital Champions. 

This new service has been designed in partnership with Sovereign Housing Association and Affinity Sutton, two of the largest housing providers in England with a combined resident population of 240,000.

Managed by Digital Unite, residents will be able to call a local rate telephone number to arrange their one-to-one Digital Champion tuition. They will also be directed to other help available in their immediate area for getting online.

Alongside this Digital Champions will also receive even more personalised support via Digital Unite’s Digital Champion Network Mentor as they go through their training and start helping residents to get online. Once the pilot is complete in spring 2015, this additional support service will be extended to other communities via the membership of the DCN4H. The DCN4H is an established, working digital inclusion solution with other housing providers and local and regional organisations. It currently has 20 members and 600 Digital Champions. Through this one common platform staff, volunteers and residents are supported and trained to be Digital Champions; to gain the knowledge themselves about internet and technology and the skills and confidence to get others using it. 

The DCN4H has courses to learn with, resources to teach with and fellow Digital Champions to share with. Housing associations can capture that essential frontline data so they can evaluate and refine the digital inclusion activities on the ground. It also integrates the latest innovation in professional development via the Open Badges initiative.

Kathy Valdes, Managing Director of Digital Unite said: “The Digital Champions Network for Housing is a highly adaptable digital inclusion solution and this new level of service is a reflection of that. We have been delighted to work with Sovereign and Affinity Sutton to develop and pilot this bespoke service that meets specific organisational needs and will help to make their Digital Champion programmes even more impactful and far-reaching. We’re looking forward to making this more widely available to other housing providers later in 2015.”

Heidi Leyshon, Resident Development Manager at Sovereign Housing Association said: “Being a founder member of the Digital Champions Network for Housing has provided us with an excellent foundation to develop our digital inclusion support for residents. It has also opened up opportunities for collaborating with other housing organisations and Digital Unite to extend this support. We’re excited to see the additional benefits that our investment in this new Digital Champion and learner linking service will bring to our communities.”

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