Bournemouth Churches Housing Association
South West based charitable housing association BCHA was founded over 50 years ago with a continuing mission to meet housing needs and end homelessness.
The Digital Bournemouth project plans to support people on their journey to employment. The project will deliver employability coaching including digital skills to support job searches and CV creation, referrals to further employability training internal and external, and signposting to local employers engaged with the project.
Digital Bournemouth plans to upscale its current offer by focussing delivery within Bournemouth, using increased team capacity to more assertively promote the offer to those hardest to reach, including its own customers and those living in some of Bournemouth’s most deprived areas.
In conversation with Bournemouth Churches Housing Association
What inspired you to apply for Power Up funding?
BCHA social housing customers predominately experience low incomes and 50% of BCHA tenants identify as unemployed.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government report that social renters were the least likely to be employed full time compared with homeowners or people who are privately renting – this cohort were generally more financially stretched and on lower incomes.
Good Things Foundation’s Digital Nation UK 2021 infographic highlighted that individuals from low incomes were four times more likely to experience digital exclusion, suggesting that a large portion of BCHA customers are digitally excluded.
During the Pandemic much of our learning moved online which meant many of our customers became excluded due to lack of digital skills and/or access to technology. Many providers have continued with an online model creating barriers for certain learners.
Whilst BCHA currently delivers digital life skill courses, Power Up funding provides a vehicle for BCHA to upscale our current offer. We will work with a dedicated trainer, and with local partners to embed digital skills learning throughout our residents’ support plans.
Offering a blend of group sessions, one-to-one training, accredited and non-regulated learning, employability coaching and signposting, we’ll develop an engaging delivery model to suit all.
It will enable those previously excluded to access new opportunities and gain new skills.
What does the funding mean to your organisation?
This funding offers BCHA the opportunity to empower our customers and local community through a holistic digital skills offer with a focus on employability. This will be built into their existing pathways, which develops digital skills that build confidence, motivation and competency. Through this provision, we expect to see more customers actively searching for employment, entering employment or undertaking further skills development or training.
How do you hope your project will help your local community?
As a place-based organisation, one of BCHA’s key strengths is it’s partnership working. Our local partners include Citizens Advice Bureau, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) and Dorset Council, Skills, Learning and Skills Adult Community Education, Mind, Salvation Army, Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), Seetec, and other local housing associations. This project will enable us to build on our existing partnerships and undertake new partnerships to increase capacity and reach more of the Bournemouth community.
By utilising community venues and spaces we will start to bring people back to these spaces, supporting the community to recover and thrive again post-pandemic.
What’s the main thing you would like to get out of your involvement in the Power Up programme?
Power Up will give BCHA the chance to increase our offer, reach out to those customers who struggle to engage in mainstream or regular programmes and deliver a more flexible, holistic, approach with 1-2-1 support. We will give this cohort the chance to progress, see potential and move closer to employment.