Mini HUGO helps people in South Leeds get online


Mini HUGO – a minibus equipped with computers has hit the road in South Leeds to get people get online and flood communities with free wi-fi.

Digital champions waiting to help you get online
Digital champions waiting to help you get online

This week you can find Mini HUGO on the following streets:

  • Tuesday 18 Feb:  Penny Lane Way & Jack Lane, Hunslet (morning only)
  • Wednesday 19 Feb:  The Arthington’s, Hunslet
  • Thursday 20 Feb:  The Clearings, Lonsdale Close & Ward Lane, Belle Isle
  • Friday 21 Feb:  Woodville Square, Belle Isle

HUGO – (helping u get online) is an innovative project run by Leeds Federated Housing Association. Two buses, a minibus and a coach equipped with computers will visit local communities with a team of ‘digital champions’ to offer support and advice to help people use the internet.

Mini HUGO will focus on communities in south Leeds. It will signpost local residents to other sources of training including the Gate, a digital hub based at Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation (BITMO).

The HUGO minibus was donated by Leeds City Council Housing Services. They have joined forces with Leeds Federated to fund a full-time digital inclusion officer based at the Gate to support local residents.

The HUGO coach will be launched in March and visit communities across Leeds.

Of the estimated 8.4 million people in the UK who are not online, research shows around half live in social housing. With many services moving online and the internet being a vital source of everything from job listings to cheap energy deals, those without internet skills and access can be at a disadvantage.

“HUGO will show people how the internet can help them in their everyday lives. With more vital services moving online, we want to remove any barriers and let them see how much fun it can be, as well as the practical benefits,” said Sue Jennings, Community Development Manager with Leeds Fed who is leading on its digital inclusion projects.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Leeds City Council and BITMO to bring mini HUGO to the streets of south Leeds and help more people in the local community get online.”

hugobus1Mark Wheelwright, Project Manager at Leeds City Council Housing Leeds, commented on the initiative, “We understand that many of our tenants are keen to get online and, by taking our mini HUGO out to our estates, we will be able to assist with wifi access. We will also develop an understanding of what services are important to many of our residents by learning which internet sites they are keen to visit.”

Carla Yeomans, Project Development Manager at the Gate said: “The HUGO project will make a big impact in our local community, and we hope it will encourage lots of people to give the internet a go, especially those who are new or a bit worried about being online. We look forward to welcoming them at BITMO’s GATE, where we run daily activities, sessions and workshops to help people build their confidence and skills to get online.”

The HUGO project has been funded by a £40,000 grant from the Government’s Digital Deal which was match funded by Leeds Federated. The Digital Deal is aimed at encouraging more social housing tenants to get online, improve their skills and benefit from wider internet services. Leeds Federated is one of 12 housing associations across the country to have secured funding from the Deal.