Castle Vale

Castle Vale, Birmingham

Project Background

Castle Vale is a housing estate located between ErdingtonMinworth and Castle Bromwich. Over the past 15 years, the estate has been transformed through a massive programme of regeneration which has seen 32 of the 34 multi-story tower blocks demolished.

In 2005, 98% of tenants voted to transfer to Castle Vale Community Housing Association (CVCHA) and a Neighbourhood Partnership Board was formed to co-ordinate the activities of all the successor agencies working on the Estate. Since 2007 the priorities for the Neighbourhood Partnership Board have shifted from improving the quality and safety of Castle Vale's public spaces to improving longer term educational and economic outcomes for residents.

Much of CVCHA’s work is currently focused on tackling the barriers preventing residents from gaining employment, with a particular focus now placed upon providing training and educational opportunities for local people. With access to the internet identified at just 60% across the estate, compared to a national average of 85%, and looming welfare reform pushing residents online, CVCHA recognised the importance of internet access in achieving these goals and has partnered with CommunityUK (now Digital Unity Group) to develop the ‘Digital Neighbourhood’ project.

Project Overview

Prior to the Wi-Fi pilot CVCHA conducted a survey in 2013 to determine the level of resident support for the service. The headline results were:

  • 87% of CVCHA tenants were interested in receiving free Wi-Fi;
  • 70% indicated they would cancel their existing broadband service if this was provided;
  • 82% indicated they would be prepared to pay £1 per month toward the cost.

The CVCHA strategic board granted approval of an initial pilot project to determine the viability of the providing universal internet coverage of free Wi-Fi to Castle Vale. It was agreed that the pilot would run for 3 months and the findings would determine whether a full roll-out should proceed. Free speed to 2mbps was provided. The pilot was located in Neighbourhood’s E & F (The Centre 8 Area – see Appendix 1) primarily because these areas were viewed as being the most difficult to engage with, and if the project could be successful here it could be successful anywhere on the estate.

Initially rolled out to residents September 2013, the WiFi pilot is now complete with over 500 users signed up to the network and with thousands of logins every month.

The resounding success of the ‘Digital Neighbourhood’ pilot has prompted CVCHA to continue working with CommunityUK and move to an estate wide roll-out. This will include a roll-out of free WiFi to all residents living in the Castle Vale estate and an accompanying digital inclusion programme designed to engage, empower and digitally upskill the local residents by following CommunityUK’s award winning ‘Going All Inclusive’ methodology.

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Date

12 October 2015

Castle Vale

Categories

Projects
Castle Vale

Our core ethos and business model is built around the belief that we must deliver real benefit to the people, communities and organisations we work with. As a member of the Digital Leaders 100 Club and a signatory to the UK government's Digital Inclusion Charter, we help to end digital exclusion and make the UK one of the true leaders of the digital world.

Contact Address

   Digital Unity Group Ltd
         18/19 The Walled Garden,
         The Nostell Estate,
         Wakefield,
         West Yorkshire,
         WF4 1AB

   +44 (0) 330 122 4650
  +44 (0) 330 122 7425
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