Supporting Digital Inclusion through our Community Benefit Fund
The events of the past year and the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on our most disadvantaged communities have meant our Community Benefit Fund (CBF) has been needed more than ever. We distributed £130,000 in funding last year to projects across Scotland offering vital assistance to their communities. In addition to this, SPA made a one off donation of £10,000 to Social Bite to support their Covid relief food programme.
Due to the nature of the pandemic, several CBF projects were based around digital services as they were particularly essential for communicating with tenants and helping them to connect with their community during lockdown and beyond.
Simplicity in Connectivity
This Cairn Housing Association project enabled real time chat with customers using whichever messaging channel the customer chose to use. Without services being restricted to certain channels, more people can engage and receive any additional help and advice they need.
Let’s Get Digital
Older people living in 7 sheltered housing complexes in East Ayrshire were the beneficiaries of this project, aimed at reducing social isolation and increasing digital skills. Let’s Get Digital included the provision of a public Wi-Fi network and access to devices and qualified trainers to enable people to access the goods, services and safe communication with family and friends, even when shielding. In addition, the first learners will become mentors for those less confident.
Bringing IT Home
South Lanarkshire Council recognised digital exclusion as a barrier to maintaining a successful tenancy for people moving from homelessness. The ability to access cheaper goods and services, as well as the necessity of accessing online learning for children became essential during lockdown. They provided families with digital devices, support in using them, and broadband for a year. At least 35 families have benefitted so far.
Digital Engagement Project
Paisley Housing Association made some big steps towards becoming digital over the last year. They had already planned to offer more digital services and communication options in the coming years. Lockdown and the need to help their communities brought forward some of their digital endeavours. Not only did they increase their digital knowledge, but they partnered with Barrhead Housing Association to employ a digital participation officer and distributed digital devices where they were most needed. An unexpected result was that their actions resulted in an increase their overall tenant engagement.
The Community Benefit Fund has already made £30,000 grant funding awards since April 2021. There will be a regular updates focussing on the different funding themes and the ingenious ways our housing and public sector partners are improving lives across Scotland.