We’ve received a guest blog post from Duncan Forbes, Chief Executive of Bron Afon Housing, looking at how co-operation runs through his organisation and how they’re currently working with young people:
“A group of young people are seeing a building being transformed into starter flats, following the spark of an idea they had three years ago.
Bron Afon’s Youth Forum has worked together to give us the best possible advice on meeting the needs of housing for young people.
After all, who else is best placed to solve the housing problem for young people? Our work as a co-operative starts with our youngest members. They have won awards and spoken at national events about how they organise themselves and get things done.
Suzy Sorby, a member of Afon Youth, and she said: “Due to such an interest with young people and homelessness, in 2011 Peter Mackie, a Cardiff university lecturer attended one of our youth forums and said ‘By 2020, housing for young people will be extremely limited’. This is where the seed was planted.”
Three years later and a lot of research and advice from the group has led to our decision not to demolish an unused building, but instead convert it into eight starter flats. They told us there’s a gap for young people living on their own for the first time, to get support if they needed it.
We have set up Own 2 Feet Living to follow this up and enable young people to live independently, in affordable rented accommodation.
They also wanted young people to learn construction skills so eight volunteers are spending a day a week on the building site, being mentored one-to-one by our trade staff.
They will come away with the experience of working on a building site through courses such as ‘asbestos awareness’ and ‘working from heights’ and be ready to take the standard qualification needed to work in construction.
Bron Afon’s approach to mutualism and working as a co-operative on Own 2 Feet has been featured in this national report, The Enabling State, by the Carnegie Trust UK. That report shows that communities can be transformed by organisations being the facilitators and not the leaders on decisions.
Young people have taken the lead with this initiative and provide each other with mutual support, facilitated by the work of our skilled youth team and our volunteers. Working in this way, the group has dramatically changed the lives and life chances of many of its members for the better, including young people who have previously fallen down the gaps between other support and care services, which is referred to in the report as the ‘disadvantaged minority’.
If you want to find out more about our Youth Forum’s approach to co-operative working please let me know.”
Welsh Government’s vision for credit unions set out by Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty
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.
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.
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.
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.