At 100% Digital Leeds we believe that our partner organisations are our greatest asset, and through our tablet lending scheme, we are able to provide them with devices and data to reach digitally excluded people all across Leeds. LATCH is one such organisation who are working with us to ensure that those they help are better informed, more independent and less isolated through being online, particularly during what is an uncertain and trying time for many.
LATCH stands for Leeds Action to Create Homes. They are a unique charitable organisation that refurbishes derelict and run-down houses in the Chapeltown, Harehills and Burley areas of Leeds.
When they’re fully modernised and furnished, their properties provide supported housing for people who are homeless or in housing need and are ready to make a positive change in their lives.
Most of the renovation work is done by LATCH staff and volunteers. Some have building trade experience already, while others learn new skills as they work on site.
“We don’t just create houses… but somewhere you can really call home.”
In June of this year LATCH successfully applied to 100% Digital Leeds for a loan of some iPads. These were loaned to some of their tenants who were experiencing financial hardship and would benefit from access to the internet as a way to address some of their other support issues.
Alan is one of LATCH’s tenants. Alan has a long history of mental illness, which leaves him socially isolated. He is on Employment Support Allowance and also has periods of financial hardship as he tries to contribute to financially supporting his three children who reside with his ex-partner.
We became aware of the impact of lockdown on some our most socially and financially excluded tenants, who would have experienced social isolation and an inability to access online services, which would have greatly impacted on their mental wellbeing.Mark Stainton, Personal Coach at LATCH
LATCH provided Alan with an iPad through the 100% Digital Leeds tablet lending scheme in June. Alan has a keen interest in bike maintenance and through using his iPad he has expanded his skills significantly through online learning and research. This has enabled Alan to carry out repairs and earn some additional money through servicing and upcycling old bikes. This has given him a great deal of confidence and his mental health has improved significantly.
The iPad has also enabled him to have much more contact with his children through FaceTime. Through his interests, learning new skills, and contact with his children, Alan’s levels of social isolation have greatly decreased.
Through 100% Digital Leeds, tenants have used the iPads to connect with family and friends, access online services such as banking, participate in learning and educational opportunities, and entertain themselves during an unusual time.Mark Stainton, Personal Coach at LATCH
Sadly, Alan has recently suffered a stroke and has been in hospital for a number of weeks. He has experienced an impairment to his speech and this has made communication very difficult, particularly when trying to use the phone. Due to Covid-19 restrictions he is not allowed visitors. His iPad has been a lifeline. By using apps he has been able to see family members and, most importantly to him, his children. He is working with an occupational and speech therapist and they have directed him to useful online tools on his iPad that Alan has been using to aid his recovery.
After seeing the positive effects that digital access and support have had on the lives of people like Alan, LATCH are currently looking to install broadband connections in their shared occupancy tenancies, so that tenants can share Wi-Fi within a block and are not digitally excluded because of data costs.
LATCH is now planning to make digital inclusion one of key areas of our support work and service development as we recognise how crucial this is to our tenants.Mark Stainton, Personal Coach at LATCH