100% Digital Leeds and Housing Leeds are working together to help improve the lives of tenants through digital. Digital inclusion is one of Leeds City Council’s key priorities in the Best Council Plan, we know that being digitally included can help improve the health and wellbeing of tenants in Leeds, as well as saving them time and money. We also know from Annual Home Visit data that around 27% of tenants in Leeds don’t have access to the internet, and there are thousands who don’t have the skills or confidence to get online.
Housing Leeds’ Tenant Engagement Officers (TEOs) play an important role in engaging with tenants across Leeds and have been very active in supporting the 100% Digital Leeds project. Housing tenants are one of our priority groups and we’ve worked together on projects such as their Community Days, their Housing Advisory Panel events, their work with wifi switch-ons for tower blocks, and we’ve got more joint projects in the pipeline.
Recruiting and training Digital Champions is one key strand of the work that our Digital Inclusion Coordinators are doing, so it was a natural fit to get together and deliver training to the TEOs to share knowledge, upskill them and discuss ways of having positive conversations with tenants around the benefits of getting online.
In preparation for our session, each of the attendees completed the fantastic module on Learn My Way, How to Be a Digital Champion. Being a Digital Champion, similar to getting online, is not about being a computer expert. It’s about enabling others to try something new, being encouraging and helping people along or finding what motivates someone to take those first steps towards using technology.
One of the TEO’s, Bryan Robinson, shared a story with the group of an elderly tenant he had worked with whose family had emigrated to Australia. Bryan spoke to her about the internet and she told him they were in email contact already, but she had never tried video chat and didn’t have the confidence. Bryan arranged a time with the family and took a tablet round and helped her sign up to Skype. The lady then had a video chat with her whole family and it was the first time she’d ever seen her grandchildren apart from in photos. It was an emotional moment and the tenant was so pleased that she went out and bought a tablet for herself the next day.
This was a fabulous example of the ways in which people can improve their lives through digital and the sort of story we love to hear. It is also a great example of the work of a Digital Champion – she wasn’t a total amateur as she was already using email, but by having that conversation Bryan was able to identify something simple that would improve the quality of her family interactions and have immeasurable benefits.
“The Digital champion training was really useful for us as Tenant Engagement officers because we interact with our tenants to make sure we provide a good service, we also give tenants a voice through various groups so that they can let us know what they want from us as their landlord. Supporting our tenants to get online will make this process much easier. Our tenants will be able to access the information they need, pay rent, look for properties and tell us what they want from Housing Leeds. The course content was great for showing the team how we can overcome the various barriers that people have to getting online and how to support people to taking their first steps.”
Katie Bell, TEO for Leeds Inner South
Once the training had been completed, each new Digital Champion received a certificate and a 100% Digital Leeds pin badge in recognition of their work.
If your organisation works with tenants on the front-line and you have a group of staff that could be digital champions, or if you have any digital inclusion related projects, queries or ideas then please get in touch.