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Friday, February 02, 2018

Council's Wi-Fi scheme is nominated for a national award

A scheme to make the internet more accessible to older people has been nominated for a national award.

West Lancashire Borough Council been nominated in the outstanding approach to promoting digital inclusion category for the UK Housing Awards 2018 after installing Wi-Fi in all its communal sheltered accommodation schemes. The winner is expected to be announced in May.

Council staff have also been carrying out taster sessions with the residents so they could learn more about the internet, using a tablet device and the services they can access online. Some of the older people had never used or even held a device, but the sessions were very popular and one resident enjoyed it so much he said he would go out and buy his own tablet.

Each scheme has also been scheduled a taster session and offered courses through Lancashire Adult Learning in the comfort of their own communal lounge.

The Wi-Fi and taster sessions are part of the Council's Digital Inclusion Strategy which aims to increase the proportion of residents in the borough who have basic online skills and access to the internet. Statistics from Age UK show that 47 per cent of people aged between 65 and 87 have never been online. Surveys were carried out in the sheltered accommodation and residents were very keen to have the Wi-Fi connection.

Councillor Jenny Forshaw, portfolio holder for Housing and Landlord Services, said: "The Council is delighted to have been nominated for this national award as it highlights the importance of the work we have been doing. More and more services provided by private and public sector bodies are moving totally online, or can be cheaper if they are accessed online. Some older people may be more capable of using online services than younger generations, but there are many who will be vulnerable to these changes and it is vital they are not left behind.

"The taster sessions were a great success as they were aimed at showing how people can access services through the internet that are relevant to them as well as fun things like shopping. Those who attended really enjoyed themselves."

Residents of the schemes are also able to access further learning through online resources provided by The Good Things Foundation available on Learn My Way (external link) using the Council's membership of the Good Things Foundation.

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