January! Christmas is over, finances are tight, it’s cold and dark, and the warmth of spring still seems an eternity away. Yes, January can be the hardest of months to get yourself back on your feet.
That’s why Westward Housing Group has teamed up with Positive People to run our ‘New Year, New You’ initiative to offer digital skills and inspiration to help Westward customers realise their dreams.
The new 12-month partnership will be launched at a fun and informal drop-in event on 31st January 2019 at The Foyer in Torquay. We’ll have lots of different activities including digital gadgets and music, interactive games, financial advice and a little magic! There will also be free food and refreshments. Everyone is welcome to pop in.
The initiative will support Westward customers to develop new digital skills that will help with all aspects of life; financially, socially and health-wise. This could include things like paying bills, applying for Universal Credit or jobs, staying in contact with friends and doing shopping or banking online.
Westward’s Assistant Director of Housing, Hayley Austin says, “We know that we can provide better and more affordable services to our customers when they are online, and in turn they can access better deals and more opportunities to enjoy hobbies, find work, make connections and study their interests. We are delighted with this partnership opportunity.
”Yet, statistics show that 61% of people who are not online say “It’s not for me”. This is something that Vicky Moss-Crump, Digital Project Manager for Positive People, hopes the initiative can change.
“This project can make endless differences to people’s lives” says Vicky “Whether people like it or not, we now live in a world where everything is going digital. Many job roles require some form of knowledge on the subject and it’s a direct link to keeping up-to-date with what’s happening in the world.
“Our aim is to help use technology for good, particularly tackling the social side of things to help make life better and open up opportunities. Many people are suspicious of technology or don’t’ feel it’s relevant to their life. Our aim is to remove any fear, make it fun and interactive. We never just sit someone in front of a laptop.
“A great example of this is setting up Skype for someone, giving them the ability to connect with their family from afar. Even something small like this can completely change someone’s life. Introducing it to someone who hasn’t seen their family in a long time is priceless. It’s amazing to see people’s faces as soon as they see the other person on the screen.
“We can also help people to get a business off the ground. Many people face challenges such as childcare or benefits, and fitting work in around their life. We’ve set up a unique self-employment programme where people get three days of initial support. We help them to get their logo, digital marketing and website designed, and can purchase equipment or training. After they have gone through this process they are ready to go with confidence.
“Equally it could be teaching people to stay safe on-line or use social media to connect to a community that they want to be part of. Even something as easy as setting up an online food shop or using Alexa to turn on light switches and the TV can completely alter the day-to-day life of someone with limited mobility. Our digital skills advisors will be able to visit people at home to see how digital can help them.”
“We had a lovely example recently – a participant, whose passion was football, had recently lost his sight. We gave him an iPhone, iWatch and set up Apple Connected Home for him. This spoke the football scores to him throughout his house and he said it changed his world.”
Alongside our digital offer, our Change Coach will also be on hand to help tenants identify what else could help make life better. People will have the opportunity to sign up to our ‘Positive People’ programme, where they can receive 1:1 support to achieve their personal goals; anything from spending time with others in the community, taking up a new hobby or returning to education or work.
“From the Change Coach side of things, what we can do is limitless”, says Vicky. “It is completely bespoke, so we could provide counselling or training in a specific area. Alternatively, it could be simply someone to talk to or perhaps help to purchase a new bed or haircut. Whatever is going to help improve the person’s life.”
Following the event, Westward and Positive People will also run weekly digital drop-in sessions across the Bay.
To find out more, please do come along to the launch event on 31st January (no booking required), or if you are a Westward customer then talk to any member of the team and they’ll be able to advise.
You can also head to the Positive People website, email [email protected]
We truly believe that every day is an opportunity for a fresh start and that, with a little support, anyone can achieve their dreams!
Notes to editors
1. For more information contact [email protected] or [email protected]
2. The ‘New year, new you’ launch event is being held to support Westward tenants, however it is also open to any member of the public who is out of work and would like to pop along. No booking is necessary
3. Westward Housing Group Ltd is a major housing association in the south west. It encompasses Help to Buy South West and Horizon Homes. As a developing landlord, Westward builds new homes across the region, working in partnership with local authorities to rent homes to those in need.
4. Positive People is a partnership between Pluss, Cosmic, Pop Plus, Torbay Community Development Trust and Devon Community Foundation. It offers a lifeline to anyone who is over 25 and out of work to build hope, confidence and skills. It is funded by the European Social Fund and the national Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund.
5. The Big Lottery Fund uses money raised by National Lottery players to help communities achieve their ambitions. From small, local projects to UK-wide initiatives, its funding brings people together to make a difference to their health, wellbeing and environment. Since June 2004 it has awarded £8.5 billion to projects that improve the lives of millions of people.
The BBO project (Positive People) has received £5 million of funding from the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/europeangrowth-funding.