The future is digital at Hull City Council

Friday 7th of September 2018

In today’s world we lead much of our daily lives online – shopping, banking, entertainment, contacting friends and relatives and much more. So, being able to get online is more important than ever. Without the skills to use the internet and be digital savvy, people are missing out as progressively more services migrate online, and buying choices, the best financial rates and discounts are offered via the internet. This is why Housing volunteers in Hull were so keen to set up their Digital Champions initiative.

Supported by the Council’s Tenant Participation Team, the Housing volunteers successfully applied for funding from Efficiency North and with the help from KCOM and Barclays Digital Eagles who helped train the Housing volunteers to become Digital Champions the “Let’s Get Online” campaign soon got underway.

“Let’s Get Online” has a pool of Digital Champions offering general and specific help. Some tenants and residents just need a little advice to brush up their computer skills. Others may have a smart phone or tablet and are unaware of the scope of the applications available.  Sometimes people have a specific request, such as how to apply for jobs online or Facetime their families.

The team base themselves in a location where there is a heavy footfall and where business intelligence indicates a low level of digital inclusion. Given a few problems with Wi-Fi connections, this has proved quite challenging at times! The team has also worked closely with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in Hull offering general help to clients, and in raising awareness that Universal Credit will be fully rolled out in the city in December and online skills are necessary to access it. In one, two-day period, the team provided advice and help to 40 DWP clients.

What next for the campaign? Such has been the success of the Champions’ work at DWP that the team has been invited to deliver online training on a monthly basis to its clients. 

Nationwide, more than 4m older people are thought to be offline. With this in mind, the team is seeking to encourage more “silver surfers” in Hull by liaising with Age UK to have a presence at many of its events. Not only will they be showing people how to use laptops, smart phones and tablets but also pointing out how much easier is to access the services they need from anywhere and at any time.

Digital inclusion among older people is one of the biggest challenges we face.  As social landlords, we too have migrated services to online channels and increasingly we use social media to engage with tenants.  It’s the way forward. Hull’s Digital Champions are committed to taking on this challenge and working towards nobody missing out.