On #housingday, our Community Investment team tells of the difference Digital Inclusion can make to someone’s life.

Sonia lives in Cambridge and was working in a low-income job in in Newmarket. She started seeing the City Inclusion project tutor after responding to a mail-out to social housing tenants in her area.

She had a smartphone and tablet but her confidence levels in using them was very low. She was expected to use a computer at work and had difficulties because of her confidence but given no technical or skills support. As she talked with the tutor, it became clear that she wanted to update her smartphone and potentially buy a laptop, but her tight budget made this difficult. She was also frustrated with her current job and we explored her interests in finding a new job.

Sonia says, “I needed more knowledge on computers and help with reducing my outgoings”. We agreed targets of learning to save money online; learning to jobsearch and apply for jobs online; increasing her confidence using technology and developing office skills.

In sessions, it became clear that Sonia was overpaying for her broadband and mobile contract, so she used her lessons to help her search for better deals online and successfully transferred her broadband. We also transferred her mobile contract to a rolling SIM only deal, saving a total £68pm or £816pa.

The tutor also helped Sonia look at price comparison sites for her utilities for more savings and showed her other ways to save money.

She now has resources she can use to continue to save money. Sonia concluded that she was ready to apply for other roles and the tutor introduced her to online job sites and job alerts and supported her to practice online applications. She was interested in caring roles and so the tutor signposted her to CHS vacancies – CHS guarantees an interview for any CHS resident who meets the minimum criteria for an advertised role. Sonia applied for a job at CHS’s Alex Wood House and was successful. Although this role will not mean much of an increase in her salary, it will leave her better off as she will not have the petrol costs for commuting to Newmarket daily. The role also offers her scope for increases to her salary in the future, and career development if she wants it.

Sonia says about the tuition “it gave me confidence on going forward with computers”. Unfortunately, an urgent need to replace her expensive varifocal glasses meant her reduced outgoings have not yet allowed her to get a laptop, however the ongoing savings mean that is a real possibility going forward.