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02 March 2016
River Clyde Homes

On December 17th 2015, CommunityUK headed to Greenock for the John Street Launch event. It was a great day; meeting those we work with is always pleasant and we hope it’s not the last time we get to visit John Street. The day was very interesting as we got to hear the questions people have about what we do and what this project involved. We also got to talk about why getting digitally included is so important for people of any age or financial standing.

We decided to hold a raffle for those that picked up their free WiFi routers within the first month. We just wanted to do it as a small thank you for using us and helping our business grow. Today we will be drawing the three lucky winners and those picked will get free upgrades for a full year! Once the winners have been drawn and contacted, we will put their prizes into effect as soon as possible.

We would like to thank everyone who came to the John Street launch and picked up their router. We hope to do more raffles like this in the future as a way to give back to the communities that we work with. As the world becomes more advanced in the technological front, we hope to continue our mission to get the people of the UK connected.

07 December 2015

Welcome to CUK Local! Every community using CommunityUK will have their own local site where they can do everything from learning to selling items. With the Just Ask section of CUK Local, you can ask anything and it will be answered by people in your community. CUK provides a unique level of guaranteed digital reach to the communities that use our services. Our free WiFi can be used via any devices like laptops, phones and tablets.

Another aspect of our new CUK Local site is the news and events section. Since these portals are hyper-local, users will only see the news and events that are relevant to them. It also helps people connect more with their community and the people in it. On each portal, there are chat boxes so you can connect with those around you.

Another useful part of this new CUK addition is that there is a section where teachers can sell and upload courses they create so anyone can learn via our website. It is a straight forward process so anyone can do it. There’s also a career guidance and job search section through our collaboration with Indeed Jobsite. With the right help and support, anyone can find a job. The Directory section of this site allows businesses in the area advertise their company and potentially pick up more customers.

There is also a section dedicated entirely to the social aspect of connecting with your community. From forums to private chat boxes, you can get in touch with people easily and form new friendships or get in touch with those you’ve lost contact with in the community.

Need to sell your unwanted items? With CUK Locals Classifieds, you can sell anything you want. Whether it’s a kitchen appliance or a sofa you don’t want anymore, stick it on and we’re sure someone will buy it in no time.

22 October 2015

Delegates of the conference at the Etihad Stadium were given a sneak peek of CUK’s new branding (Connect, Include, Reach, Engage - #FourWordsofDigitalPower) reflecting what has always been our approach to Digital Inclusion but in much more targeted way, as well as a key note speech from CommunityUK Managing Director, Peter Reed-Forrester.

The speech focused on whether Housing Providers are paying proper attention to their own readiness for Digital Engagement with their tenants, if this should be part of a Digital Inclusion programme and how this could be achieved. The take home message from the speech was that housing providers don’t need a ‘Digital Strategy’ but rather a ‘Business Strategy for the Digital Age’. It also stressed that Providers shouldn’t be afraid to work with new partners to who can bring new ideas to the table.

Overall, the Conference was hugely successful, well laid on by the University of Salford and capitalised on what was achieved at the last Future of Digital Housing Conference in 2014. The range of interesting presentations and seminars throughout the day could be seen individually but were also organically linked, and it was encouraging to see not only ISPs and communications companies present (as well as the University of Salford’s ‘ThinkLab’ showing off their virtual reality environments) but other Digital Inclusion specialists from around the UK in attendance too!

As always, the event represented an opportunity for collaboration between organisations working within the social housing sector. Such events are key in surfacing new ideas for digital technology and inclusion, as well as helping to create a direction forward for the industry as a whole - all of which are critical in ensuring the challenges facing HA’s over the next decade are to be met.

We know that the digital revolution has transformed how the providers of social housing are now able to engage and interact with their tenants. Many Providers are contending with reduced income as the result of the 2015 Budet, the Government’s ‘Digital by Default’ agenda and Universal Credit, whilst at the same time striving to improve the overall customer experience – this is no easy feat.

However, if the collaboration and ingenuity CommunityUK saw and heard at the conference from many in attendance continues over the coming years, then we are in no doubt that these challenges will be met.

19 October 2015

Hot on the trail of September’s Digital Inclusion conference, the Outcomes Framework workshop was an exciting opportunity for interested partners to learn more about implementing the framework, discuss best practice and share their experiences using the Framework to-date.

- Image of Great George Street Offices licensed under Creative Commons 3.0, Carlos Delgado; CC-BY-SA

Eilis Lawlor, Founder of JustEconomics - the organisation commissioned to produce the framework by GDS, (and who did a great job condensing a two day course into two and half hours!) was on hand to walk everyone present through the framework’s practical application. This included overviews of stakeholder mapping, Theories of Change, evaluation and data gathering, along with a few practical exercises so that we could get really hands-on with the material.

The session covered everything from who to engage with, how many people to sample an as always, it was a great opportunity to see many of the UK’s pre-eminent Digital Inclusion experts from across the country all in one room, which leads to the creation of new partnerships, ideas and points for debate.

It’s clear that there is a lot of support for a standardised method of measuring the outcomes (not just outputs) of Digital Inclusion activities, which also has flexibility built within it to acknowledge that all projects operate under wildly different circumstances and as such, a one size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. The GDS framework allows for this flexible standardisation but, as with any newly designed product or service, it still requires road-testing which is where organisations such as CUK will work hard over the coming months to help iron out any issues.

CommunityUK intends to embed GDS’s Outcomes Framework into our ‘Going All Inclusive’ digital inclusion programmes, as well as encourage the partners we work with to use it where appropriate. We, along with many others including Accenture, RNIB, Digital Unite and many more, will be putting the framework through its paces over the coming months in order to ensure that it is robust and as useable as possible.

Hopefully, our work will help us answer some of the questions that still remain – is it appropriate to measure some stakeholders over others when DI activities often cut across several groups? What size and scope of project would the framework actually be appropriate for? What should those outside this scope use? How do DI funders feel about the framework?

Time will tell what the answers are to the above questions and will no doubt raise several more, however with the dedication and knowledge shown by those present at the workshop today it will be interesting to see the final results of the Framework pilot when they are (presumably) produced later next year.

05 October 2015

Orbit Housing Group is a member of the Connected Housing Initiative who owns and manages approximately 39,000 households in England, including in the Midlands, the South East and London. They are are passionate about the communities they support and have around 100,000 customers. 

CommunityUK and Orbit Group are currently working together as part of the 'Orbit Living Shared WiFi' pilot project. Proposed and approved in 2013 as part of delivering Orbit’s Digital Inclusion Strategy, the project seeks to address the complex issues which come under its ‘Digital Inclusion’ agenda and acknowledges that these issues cannot be addressed by working in isolation.

The purpose of the project is to explore innovative and effective options for providing cost-effective internet access alongside digital engagement and skills support in Orbit managed communities. As with many Housing Associations that are simultaneously contending with the effect of the 2015 Budget on already pressured finances, the Digital by Default Agenda and the looming implementation of Universal Credit; Orbit Group seeks to support channel shift to lower-cost online channels and reduce pressures and overheads for staff. 

More importantly for Orbit Group, they seek to help vulnerable residents’ access benefit entitlements and job opportunities, enable older residents and residents with disabilities to benefit from more opportunities for independent living; and expand the younger generations knowledge of the internet outside of social media. 

To read more about the work CommunityUK and Orbit Group are undertaking Click Here!

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,
         West Yorkshire,
         WF4 1AB

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