Yesterday (28 November 2013) Leeds Federated Housing Association launched the HUGO project to help people use computers and the internet.
The launch set the tone for the project by including live blogging, tweets, fun games and competitions. We even had a flashmob of break dancers.
Storytelling is a great way to get a message across so Leeds Fed has created the HUGO family. A fictional family moving to Leeds and exploring their new city online. You can follow their adventures on their blog at thehugofamilyblog.wordpress.com.
HUGO, Helping yoU Get Online (geddit?) is about reaching the people – 11m nationally – who do not use a computer. Nearly half of them live in social housing. In the jargon it’s called the “digital divide”. HUGO is a digital inclusion project and it’s funded by the Department of Work and Pensions. Why? Because the government wants to put all benefit claims online, but many claimants don’t have any IT skills.
Do you remember the first time you used a computer, the first time you looked at a website, the first time you sent an email? It was a bit different, even a bit frightening maybe. Leeds Fed have decided not to use the big stick of a benefit claim to get people of over that hurdle. Instead they’ve chosen to show people the fun they’re missing out on – Skyping your grandchildren in Australia, watching village cricket, listening to obscure music or buying cheap products on eBay.
Leeds Fed have thrown themselves into this project. They are opening the HUGO Centre at the base in Burley next week. The centre will give people (not just Leeds Fed tenants) access to computers, as well as running workshops and courses to help people get started. This will be followed by the HUGO buses, which will be coming out to our streets and estates. The buses will also have computers and staff on board as well as creating a wi-fi hotspot around them.
With 72% of employers saying they wouldn’t consider applicants for any job who don’t have basic IT skills, it’s never been more important to help everyone get online. Leeds Fed are working with a number of partners including Housing Leeds and Leeds City Credit Union. They will be offering cheap reconditioned laptops for sale and affordable finance packages through the credit union.
South Leeds Life will be covering this project as it rolls out in our area and getting involved where we can to help it. We encourage our readers to help anyone they know, friends or family perhaps, who don’t know how to use a computer. Show them the benefits and fun you have and help them make the first steps.