Embedding digital within our community

Director of Spire View Housing, Fiona Murphy, writes about how being supported by Power Up has impacted the charity - and how they have adapted over the last few months.

Things have changed significantly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing measures implemented by the UK and Scottish Governments have meant that we have been unable to hold face-to-face sessions – however, with support from Power Up and Grant Manager Sue Hennessey, we have been able to take a very flexible approach towards how we embed digital in the local community during this very challenging time.

We were only just getting the project up and running when lockdown commenced so we had many obstacles we needed to overcome. Working with our partners at Access Technology Scotland and Rosemount Lifelong Learning we formulated a response that has, we believe, allowed us to continue to embed digital within our community, bearing in mind the Power Up core ethos of people, places and provision.

Some of our achievements so far include:

  • Access Technology Scotland (ATS) provided a number of iPads for use by volunteers and participants of the project. Distribution is available via a ‘lending library’ and ATS delivers the devices to recipients. It has also devised a process to be followed at delivery and collections which lowers the risk of infection and cross-infection.
  • ATS prepared an information leaflet that has been circulated to the entire Royston Community. This was done using social media, websites, weekly mailings from landlords and was also included in food parcels and hot meal delivery packs, ensuring the information was delivered as widely as possible. The leaflet includes details of the lending library of iPads as well as other useful resources. This will hopefully allow some people are not presently digitally connected, to become so.
  • ATS have prepared online content in the form of 5 short video animations that have been shared across our social media networks and websites. Content includes information and advice on: finding coronavirus updates online, creating a Google account, creating a CV, email safety and security, and online shopping. The aim of the animations is to provide a mix of digital learning, health advice and support services to keep people feeling connected.
  • We received and distributed 10 devices via the DevicesDotNow project to people in our community who were completely disconnected and didn’t have the financial means to get connected. Recipients are being supported by the Digital Engagement Officer.

I believe we’ve responded very well to the challenges presented by coronavirus and we have adjusted our services to ensure, as far as possible, that we continue to deliver for our local community. This has been made possible due to our resilience, flexibility and determination as an organisation and our core belief that our tenants and local community deserve the best possible service.

But the depth of our response was made entirely possible by our involvement in the Power Up project. It came at exactly the right time for us. The application and award process was very straightforward and our Grant Manager has been extremely supportive and encouraging. Being part of this project has opened up new opportunities for us as an organisation such as the DevicesDotNow project which has been invaluable for our community during the coronavirus outbreak.

Power Up has been the most ‘hands on’ funder that we have worked with over the years and our experience of taking part in the initiative has been overwhelmingly positive. We are extremely grateful for the support we have received.