East Yorkshire housing association shortlisted for second year running in national awards thanks to its pioneering approach to digital inclusion

East Yorkshire housing association shortlisted for second year running in national awards thanks to its pioneering approach to digital inclusion

A long-established East Yorkshire-based provider of quality homes for later life is celebrating after being shortlisted for a coveted national award for its groundbreaking work to engage residents in learning how to use the internet.

Pickering and Ferens Homes is currently preparing itself for the final rounds of the UK Housing Awards 2017 which will take place in the first week of March. The shortlisting in the “Outstanding Approach to Digital Inclusion” this year comes on the back of the association being named overall winner of the “Outstanding Approach to Tenant Involvement” category in 2016.

The award-winning association is now one of only five organisations left in the running for the UK Housing Award in a category which recognises organisations that have undertaken outstanding work to help tenants both understand and use the internet.

This was achieved through various schemes that aimed to ensure that individuals and groups have equal and affordable access to digital technology as well as the digital literacy skills, motivation and trust to confidently engage in the digital aspect of modern society.

The judges at UK Housing Awards commented that they were particularly interested in the scheme’s “IT and Biscuits’” initiative, which introduced free Wi-Fi to communal areas within Pickering and Ferens Homes’ sheltered housing schemes and communal facilities and gave residents an opportunity to learn in a friendly, informal setting.

Residents at the association are also given the opportunity to take part in monthly digital workshops which are hosted in partnership with local internal provider KCOM, with competitions acting as an incentive to attend the sessions.

Claire Warren, chief executive of Pickering and Ferens Homes said: “I am delighted that we have been shortlisted for a second year running in the UK Housing awards. To receive this kind of national recognition is real testimony to the hard work that is being done by my wider team to make a real difference to residents’ lives at every level.

“We have worked tirelessly to ensure that our digital inclusion work has made a transformative impact on improving the quality of later life by using the power of the internet to help people live independently in their home for longer, whilst also tackling loneliness and isolation issues at the same time as a result of residents being better connected to their friends and family.

“The results yielded by our “IT and Biscuits” initiative were outstanding, with a huge increase in residents now using the internet and enjoying it, as well as, often life changing results for the Digital Superhero competition winners who have been given prizes like free internet access for a year in their own home.

“By introducing these digital inclusion schemes, residents will continue to improve their overall mental health and wellbeing, as the work we are doing supports with social inclusion, whilst prolonging residents’ independence and enhancing their vital communication links.”

John Langham, project leader of KCOM added: “We developed a number of innovative ways to engage residents and to help them make the most out of the type of support and services that can only be accessed digitally.

“We are really pleased that the initiatives developed in partnership have resulted in this national recognition. Clearly, the most important thing is the fact that the work has had such a phenomenal impact on residents’ lives and I have been fortunate enough to witness that first hand with the residents who have taken part.”

The association will find out if they are one of the UK Housing Awards front-runners during the reveal at a ceremony at the Lancaster London Hotel on the 26 April.