Beyond Housing is joining an innovative scheme which pledges to bring free internet access to essential online services to adults on low incomes.
Westfield Farm, Beyond Housing’s community resource and training centre based in Dormanstown, Redcar, has been successful in applying to join The National Databank scheme through digital inclusion charity, The Good Things Foundation.
Aimed at providing free internet access to those who are unable to get online, the databank has received a donation of 22 million gigabytes of data from Virgin Media and O2, which will enable the scheme to support approximately 255,000 people across the country with access to the internet over the next two years.
Specialist Beyond Housing colleagues, who work closely with customers in Redcar and Scarborough facing financial difficulties, will be distributing free O2 sim cards along with regular data vouchers to use through the National Databank scheme. This will benefit approximately 180 eligible customers who are in most need of access to essential online services. These customers will be provided with ongoing one to one support in using the data, if required.
In addition, as part of Beyond Housing’s employability drive to help reduce digital exclusion, a Be Connected project has been established to issue tablets, enabling colleagues to help those customers who had previously struggled with basic IT procedures to learn the necessary skills.
Lucy Farquharson, Volunteer Coordinator at Beyond Housing, said: “The National Databank scheme has provided an excellent opportunity for us to tackle digital exclusion within our communities. Although Westfield Farm can provide free Wi-Fi for users, the Databank and tablets will allow many of our customers to continue their online learning at home.”
Geoff Wears, a Westfield Farm Volunteer who has just successfully used the tablet and data combination to pass his heavy goods vehicle driving theory test, said:
“It’s a great tool to use. It’s been a life saver for my heavy goods driving theory test. It’s been very useful.”