I’m really lucky that by doing what I do, I get to have regular ‘pinch me’ moments. One of those moments was last week at an event we hosted for social housing organisations in London. We work with thousands of social housing providers through the UK online centres network and the Digital Housing Hub community. In case you didn’t know, the Digital Housing Hub was launched by Tinder Foundation in 2011, and has grown into a vibrant community for those working in digital inclusion in social housing.
Some brilliant speakers joined us; James Lewis from CHS Group shared his honest experience from the Making Money Count pilot. The project loaned tenants in the rural Fenland district, Cambridgeshire (where numeracy and literacy levels are amongst the lowest in the country) a laptop or tablet and Mifi. James highlighted the barriers to getting online, but also evidence that people can save money from being online. He said that for the people who had access to a device and broadband their financial inclusion improved – and improved faster.
I really enjoyed listening to Hannah Bailey from Berneslai Homes who passionately shared her views on how “digital strategy must be done now, not later” and should be at the heart of social housing organisations. Hannah has successfully helped Berneslai Homes to see digital inclusion as something relevant to all staff not just the ones with digital inclusion in their job titles or roles.
There was so much energy in the room with people from all over the country who had come to exchange ideas and experiences, and who all had a shared purpose; to reach the digitally excluded. There are 4.1 million adults living in social housing that are offline, and I was fascinated to hear how the social housing providers that attended have motivated their tenants to improve their digital skills. One of the things that came across loud and clear was that digital inclusion is now such a big part of financial and social inclusion, and that digital runs across the whole organisation and everything a housing provider does.
The networking and sharing of experiences was fabulous too, and it was great for Tinder Foundation’s new Director, Adam Micklethwaite to get stuck in.
The event coincided with the launch of Tinder Foundation’s Doing Digital Inclusion: Social Housing handbook. This is the first in a series of ‘Doing Digital Inclusion’ handbooks, created to provide practical tips and solutions to tackling digital exclusion in specialist networks. I’d love to know what you think of it.
You can view the presentations from the event here. We have some more events planned over the next few months, and I’m looking forward to meeting lots more inspiring people doing great things and having more ‘pinch me’ moments.