Wales Co-operative Centre

Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru

Welsh Government’s vision for credit unions set out by Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty

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The Wales Co-operative Centre runs a number of projects that promote financial inclusion and that provide advice on money management. These projects are a key part of the Centre’s role in developing and implementing solutions to strengthen communities and promote inclusion in Wales. Rhian Hughes, who works on one of these financial inclusion projects, blogs about the recent Welsh Government Credit Union Conference…

Yesterday’s (Thursday 17 July) Welsh Government Credit Union Conference showed the innovative and flexible approach that credit unions have in Wales. Jeff Cuthbert AM, the Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty, set out the Welsh Government’s vision for credit unions in Wales and that modernising credit unions, so they attract more working middle income earners and work more closely to offer financial products nationally, will help make them fitter for the future.

From offering low cost loans and savings to those who are financially excluded, to offering loans at rates that compete with the high street lenders, credit unions are for everyone and we should all be promoting this around Wales. An example of this is North Wales Credit Union offering a lower rate on loans of £7,500-£15,000 at a very competitive APR compared to the high street.

The Wales Co-operative Centre has a strong history of supporting the credit union movement in Wales, and was pleased to be part of this day. Jo Lovell, Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion (THFI) Project Manager and Rhian Hughes, North Wales Financial Inclusion Champion, delivered a workshop looking at how credit unions can work with the housing sector.

It was also great to hear about the success of the advertising campaign for Credit Unions Wales, which had been funded by Welsh Government. The all Wales branding shows the partnership working between credit unions in Wales.

So, if you’re not yet a member of your local credit union, what are you waiting for!  Visit – http://www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk/home to find your nearest one.

Written by ieuannash

July 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm

New partnerships formed to help claimants get ready for Universal Credit

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The Wales Co-operative Centre runs a number of projects that promote financial inclusion and that provide advice on money management. These projects are a key part of the Centre’s role in developing and implementing solutions to strengthen communities and promote inclusion in Wales. Jo Lovell, who manages one of these financial inclusion projects, blogs about a recent announcement on the Robust Trialling of the Local Support Services Frameworks that will support claimants through the transition from the current benefit system to Universal Credit.

Last week saw the Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, announce a series of new trials to help claimants get ready for Universal Credit along with the 11 partnerships that have successfully bid to deliver this local support. It is really encouraging to see that two of the 11 sites are in Wales; Blaenau Gwent and Carmarthenshire County Councils.

‘The trials will be partnerships between jobcentres and local authorities across Great Britain, who will be supported by third sector organisations, voluntary groups and social landlords. Each trial will be different, focussing on local need. They will look at the best way to prepare claimants for the world of work, by helping them with online access and digital support and managing their finances on a monthly basis.’

Universal Credit will by replace 6 different benefits and tax credits with a single monthly household payment. It includes support for the costs of housing, children and childcare, as well as support for disabled people and carers. Concerns have been raised since the first mention of Universal Credit by tenants, and both support and housing providers. Many of whom feel that people will struggle due to their lack of financial capability and digital exclusion.

At the Wales Co-operative Centre we are really pleased to be one of the third sector organisations supporting Blaenau Gwent, in this key piece of work that will help to shape the final framework in 2015. It is an exciting opportunity that will see financial and digital inclusion brought together.

Over the last few months, the Tackling Homelessness through Financial Inclusion (THFI) project has worked with Blaenau Gwent to assist them in mapping the local support services, that will be essential for supporting residents through forthcoming changes to their benefits, as well as delivering financial inclusion awareness sessions to front line workers in the borough. The Wales Co-operative Centre is delighted to continue working in partnership with the Council in this exciting new phase of preparing for welfare reform.

Written by ieuannash

July 18, 2014 at 8:36 am

Grwpiau anabl: cyllid yn dod i ben ar gyfer cymorth cynhwysiant digidol

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Yr wythnos hon, mae Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru wedi cyhoeddi “Digital Inclusion: Stronger Communities”, papur polisi sy’n archwilio effaith allgáu digidol ar bobl yng Nghymru ac yn dadlau dros brosiect cynhwysiant digidol penodol a pharhaus. Heddiw rydym yn edrych ar sut y mae’r gwaith presennol yng Nghymru yn helpu i wneud cynhwysiant digidol yn hygyrch.
Mae Cymunedau 2.0 wedi datblygu amrywiaeth o strategaethau i ymgysylltu â phobl. Mae’r rhain yn cynnwys cynnal sesiynau galw i mewn “Dyddiau Gwener Digidol” mewn llyfrgelloedd, a gweithio gydag aelodau grwpiau cymunedol trwy ddefnyddio “bachyn” penodol i ennyn eu diddordeb neu roi hyder iddynt. Er bod y bwriad yr un peth, sef rhoi’r sgiliau digidol y mae eu hangen ar bobl i drawsnewid eu bywydau, mae angen i’r pwynt cychwynnol fod yn wahanol ar gyfer pobl unigol.
Mae’r rhaglen Cymunedau 2.0 a oedd yn derbyn cymorth gan Lywodraeth Cymru wedi datblygu arbenigedd mewn gwahaniaethu cymorth cynhwysiant digidol yn ôl gallu cleientiaid, ac mewn cefnogi pobl sy’n defnyddio technoleg gynorthwyol. Mae hyn yn cynnwys offer a dyfeisiau i helpu pobl a chanddynt broblemau â swyddogaethau gwybyddol, synhwyraidd a chorfforol.
Mae cysylltiadau cryf rhwng anabledd, tlodi a sgiliau/cyflogaeth isel, sy’n golygu bod
dyfnder allgáu digidol i’r rheini a chanddynt anableddau yn gyffredinol yn llawer mwy na’r dyfnder ar gyfer y boblogaeth
ehangach. Mae’r Swyddfa Ystadegau Gwladol wedi dweud bod pobl anabl dair gwaith yn llai tebygol o fynd ar-lein na phobl heb anabledd.
Mae aelodau Clwb Byddar Bargoed wedi bod yn dysgu sgiliau digidol newydd trwy brosiect Dewch Ar-lein Caerffili. Gwnaeth y sesiwn flasu gyntaf, a ddarparwyd gan Swyddog Allgymorth Digidol ar y cyd â chyfieithydd Iaith Arwyddion Prydain, addysgu aelodau’r grŵp sut i ddefnyddio Skype ac o ganlyniad i ddangos sut i sgwrsio dros fideo, cafodd un cwpl eu sgwrs gyntaf erioed o ystafelloedd gwahanol.
Roedd y sesiynau hefyd yn galluogi aelodau’r clwb i ddod i arfer â dyfeisiau symudol, gan gynyddu’u hyder o ran defnyddio iPads yn ogystal â chyfrifiaduron. Cafodd y dosbarthiadau dderbyniad da, gyda’r aelodau’n defnyddio’u sgiliau newydd i gadw mewn cysylltiad â’i gilydd rhwng cyfarfodydd, ac roedd hyn yn eu helpu i gynyddu’u cynhwysiant cymdeithasol ac annibyniaeth barhaus.
Dywedodd Swyddog Allgymorth Digidol y grŵp, “Dyma’r gyfres fwyaf gwerth chweil o sesiynau rydw i erioed wedi’u darparu. Ymatebodd aelodau Clwb Byddar Bargoed yn frwdfrydig iawn i’r gwaith a wnaethom â Skype ac mae’r dechnoleg wedi trawsnewid y ffordd y gallant gyfathrebu â’i gilydd. Cyn Skype, roedd yr aelodau’n dibynnu ar negeseuon testun i gadw mewn cysylltiad, ond nawr gallant gyfathrebu’n fwy naturiol ac yn rhydd trwy Iaith Arwyddion Prydain, diolch i agwedd weledol sydd gan Skype i’w chynnig.”
Mae’n waith hyfryd a chyfoethog iawn ond mae’r arian sy’n ei wneud yn bosibl yn dod i ben. Os ydym am i bobl anabl fwynhau buddion bod ar-lein mae’n rhaid i’r gwaith hwn barhau. Mae angen rhaglen cynhwysiant digidol benodol ar Gymru.

Written by cathewalescoop

July 18, 2014 at 8:01 am

Posted in co-operatives

Disability groups: funding running out for digital inclusion support

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The Wales Co-operative Centre has published “Digital Inclusion: Stronger Communities”, a policy paper that examines the impact of digital exclusion on people in Wales and argues for a continuing, specific digital inclusion project.  Today we look at how current work in Wales helps make digital inclusion accessible.

Communities 2.0 has developed a range of strategies to engage people.  These include running “Digital Fridays” drop in sessions in libraries, and working with community group members using a particular “hook” to get them interested or give them confidence.  The aim may be the same, to give people the digital skills needed to transform their lives, but the starting point needs to be different to suit individual people.

The Welsh Government backed Communities 2.0 programme has developed expertise in differentiating digital inclusion support according to the abilities of clients, and in supporting people who use assistive technology.  This includes equipment and devices to help people who have problems with physical, sensory and cognitive functions.

There are strong links between disability, poverty and low skills/employment, which means that the depth of digital exclusion for those with disabilities is generally much greater than for the wider population. The Office for National Statistics has said that disabled people are three times less likely to get online than people without disability.

Members of Bargoed Deaf Club have been learning new digital skills through the Get Caerphilly Online project.  The first taster session, which was delivered by a Digital Outreach Officer in tandem with a British Sign Language translator, taught members of the group how to use Skype and the demonstration of the video chat function allowed one couple to have their first ever conversation from separate rooms.

The sessions also allowed club members to get to grips with mobile devices, increasing their confidence in using iPads as well as computers. The classes were received well, with members using their new skills to keep in touch with each other in between meetings, and which helped them increase their social inclusion and continued independence.

The group’s Digital Outreach Officer commented, “This set of sessions have been some of the most rewarding I’ve ever delivered. The members of Bargoed Deaf Club responded very enthusiastically to the work we did with Skype and the technology has revolutionised the way that they are able to communicate with one another. Before Skype, the members were reliant on text message to keep in touch, but now they are able to communicate much more naturally and freely through British Sign Language, thanks to the visual aspect that Skype offers.”

This is wonderful, enriching work but the funding that makes it happen is running out.  If we want disabled people to enjoy the benefits of being online this work must continue.  Wales needs a dedicated national digital inclusion programme.

Written by MarkWalesCooperative

July 18, 2014 at 8:00 am

Posted in co-operatives

Closing the Jaws of Doom: co-operative approaches to public service delivery

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The “Jaws of Doom” describes the shape you see if you plot a graph showing increasing demand for public services (driven by an ageing population) and reducing public sector resources to meet that need.  It’s this tension that is driving severe cuts in some areas and market commercialisation in other parts of the UK.

That was the background to today’s “Reshaping Services with the Public” conference held by the Wales Audit Office in collaboration with partners including the Wales Co-operative Centre.  The conference was about changing the relationship between those who deliver and people who use services.

The premise is that too many public services are still delivered from the perspective of single service deliverers. The leads to citizens experiencing multiple, fragmented approaches that can result in contradictory and conflicting interventions, poor outcomes for the service user, waste of valuable resources and poor value for money.

An example of a 'jaws of doom' graph

An example of a ‘jaws of doom’ graph

Keynote speaker Professor Tony Bovaird from Birmingham University argued for a radical change in the way we co-commission, co-design, co-deliver and co-assess public services.  We need to centre services on the user, gain their consent and harness their time and the time of others in the community to complement resources paid for from public money.

This sounds a lot like a co-operative model to us.  The Wales Co-operative Centre supports co-operatives and social businesses, and that includes assisting local councils who are considering externalising services to new social businesses.  We help ensure that the perspectives of service users and staff are hard-wired into the governance structures of new enterprises.  We support business plans that stack up financially but are driven by the needs of service users and by broader social good.  This is in sharp contrast to privatisation approaches, where service users can be objectified, and ineffective delivery models can be contractually perpetuated.

And at the Wales Co-operative Centre we try to practice what we preach.  We deliver the Wales Government’s Communities 2.0 digital inclusion programme, and the volunteering model used is a lovely model of co-delivery.  The people the programme helps can themselves become volunteers and influence what the programme delivers.  Not only does this mean value for money but it ensures that the programme stays fresh and relevant to the needs of people who are digitally excluded.

Today’s conference marks the beginning of a long journey for public services in Wales.  If we keep with us co-operative values and explore co-operative models of service delivery, we would be well on our way.

Written by Dave Brown

July 17, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Cynhwysiant digidol: pobl hŷn yn llai arunig, ond y cymorth yn dod i ben?

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Yr wythnos hon, mae Canolfan Cydweithredol Cymru wedi cyhoeddi “Digital Inclusion: Stronger Communities”, papur polisi sy’n archwilio effaith allgáu digidol ar bobl yng Nghymru ac yn dadlau dros brosiect cynhwysiant digidol penodol a pharhaus. Heddiw rydym yn edrych ar sut y mae pobl sydd wedi’u hallgáu’n ddigidol yn gallu bod yn arunig, a sut y daeth Victor ar-lein a goresgyn ei arunigrwydd.
Y dyddiau hyn, mae mwy a mwy o bobl yn defnyddio cyfryngau cymdeithasu i gefnogi a datblygu perthnasoedd â theulu a ffrindiau. Os na all pobl ddefnyddio’r Rhyngrwyd maent wedi’u hynysu. Ni fyddant yn gweld newyddion na lluniau a byddant yn cael eu heithrio o fywydau bob dydd rhai o’u teulu neu’u grwpiau cymdeithasol.
Mae pobl hŷn, pobl anabl a gofalwyr yn anghyfartal o debygol o gael eu hallgáu’n ddigidol. Gallant hefyd ei chael yn anoddach yn gorfforol i fynd allan i weld pobl wyneb yn wyneb. Dengys ymchwil bod ynysu yn gysylltiedig ag i iechyd gwael a marwolaeth mewn pobl hŷn: gall cynhwysiant digidol roi bywyd gwell a hirach i bobl.
Mae Victor yn dechnegydd sydd wedi ymddeol a ddatblygodd ei sgiliau cyfrifiadurol trwy gyrsiau a oedd yn cael eu cynnal gan Deudraeth Cyf yn rhan o Brosiect Gwynedd Ddigidol.
Mae ganddo ddiddordeb erioed mewn casglu hen ffotograffau a chofnodi hanes lleol. Roedd yn cyfathrebu’n rheolaidd â ffrindiau a chyd-gasglwyr dros y ffôn ac yn anfon a chael copïau o hen ffotograffau trwy’r post. Ers iddo gael ei gyflwyno i gyfrifiaduron gall bellach yrru a derbyn negeseuon, lluniau a dogfennau dros e-bost ac mae’n gallu defnyddio’r Rhyngrwyd i ymchwilio i’w hoff ddiddordeb. Mae hefyd yn defnyddio Skype yn rheolaidd i gadw mewn cysylltiad â theulu a ffrindiau.
Dywedodd Victor, “Mae’r cyrsiau hyn wedi fy ngalluogi i gyfathrebu â ffrindiau a theulu dros y byd mewn ffordd na feddyliais y byddai byth yn bosibl.
“Cyn hyn, roedd y gost o ffonio a phostio’n golygu y bu’n rhaid i mi gyfyngu sut a phryd roeddwn yn cyfathrebu â’m ffrindiau, ond trwy ddefnyddio e-bost a Skype mae’r gost fwy neu lai wedi diflannu. Ar ôl y cyrsiau, prynais liniadur a gosod band eang gartref. Mae’n rhywbeth y meddyliais na fyswn byth yn ei wneud ond mae wedi gwneud gwahaniaeth mawr i’m bywyd a byddwn yn ei argymell i bawb.”
Mae mynd ar-lein wedi newid bywyd Victor yn llwyr, ond mae degau o filoedd rhagor fel ef. Os yw rhagor o bobl hŷn am oresgyn cael eu hynysu a byw bywydau cyfoethocach ac iachach o ganlyniad, mae angen i gymorth cynhwysiant digidol barhau.

Written by cathewalescoop

July 16, 2014 at 8:01 am

Posted in co-operatives

Digital inclusion: older people less isolated, but support needs to continue!

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The Wales Co-operative Centre has published “Digital Inclusion: Stronger Communities”, a policy paper that examines the impact of digital exclusion on people in Wales and argues for a continuing, specific digital inclusion project.  Today we look at how people who are digitally excluded can be isolated, and how Victor got online and overcame his isolation.

These days, more and more people are using social media to support and develop relationships with family and friends.  If people can’t use the Internet then they are isolated.  They won’t see news or photos and they will be excluded from the daily lives of some of their family or social groups.

Older people, disabled people and carers are disproportionately likely to be digitally excluded.  They may also find it physically harder to get out and see people face to face.  Research shows that isolation is associated with poor health and mortality in older people: digital inclusion can give people a better, longer life.

Victor is a retired technician who acquired his computer skills from courses run by Deudraeth Cyf as part of the Digidol Gwynedd Project.

He has always been interested in collecting old photographs and recording local history. He regularly communicated with friends and fellow collectors by phone and sent and received copies of old photographs by mail.  Since he was introduced to computers he is now able to send and receive messages, photos and documents by e-mail and can use the Internet carry out research on his favourite hobby. He is also a regular user of Skype which he uses to keep in touch with family and friends.

Victor says, “These courses have allowed me to communicate with friends and family all over the world, in a way that I never thought possible.

“Prior to this, the cost of telephoning and postage meant I had to limit how and when I communicated with my friends, but by using e-mail and Skype that cost has virtually disappeared. Following the courses, I bought a laptop and installed broadband at home. It is something I thought I would never do but it has made a great difference to my life and I would recommend it to everyone.”

Getting online has literally transformed Victor’s life, but there are tens of thousands more like him.  If more older people are to overcome isolation and live richer and healthier lives as a result, digital inclusion support needs to continue.

Written by MarkWalesCooperative

July 16, 2014 at 8:00 am

Posted in co-operatives

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