Digital tablets provide lifeline for residents to stay in touch with family and friends

£50,000 worth of digital tablets has been handed out to residents to provide a lifeline so they can get online and keep in touch with family and friends during the Covid-19 crisis.

Andy Cave Riverside’s Project Officer who is managing the roll-out of equipment to residents, with the digital tablet.

Charitable housing association Riverside has purchased hundreds of the gadgets and technical equipment so residents in Riverside’s supported accommodation across the country can stay connected with the outside world.

Residents of all ages will benefit from the initiative including those in our supported housing services for veterans’ who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, retirement living schemes, and supported accommodation for people who are homeless. The tablet will enable people to get online in their rooms, flats and bungalows while self-isolating from the pandemic.

For 21-year-old Sasha Robinson the digital tablet has been salvation for her to keep connected with family as she has Asperger’s syndrome and finds social situations difficult. As a result she avoided going out of her flat for a while and lost contact with her family and friends.

Sasha lives at Springhill Close in Wakefield, Riverside’s supported accommodation for people with complex needs. The service helps people to develop the necessary skills and confidence to move in to independent living and break the cycle of homelessness.

“Since being gifted the tablet it has enabled me to keep in contact with family members and friends via social media. I have also joined an online autism group that run quizzes and keep in touch with other members, so I now feel less isolated. I can now keep in contact with friends more easily,” says Sasha who has now applied online to study a course on animal care in September.

The project is funded by the Riverside Foundation which is the housing association’s charity that helps people overcome obstacles for a better quality of life. The digital tablets have either been gifted to people who need them or given to schemes which is then loaned to residents.

Andy Cave, Riverside’s Project Officer who is managing the roll-out of equipment to residents, said: “These digital tablets are a lifeline for many of our customers who are in challenging circumstances, so it will enable them to keep in contact with family and friends as well as being able to check their benefit claims, look after finances and do all the other things we take for granted.

“We worked with EE to get the best deal for the equipment and provide an appropriate data package for residents. It is a vital resource to those that haven’t been able to use the communal lounge due to the government’s social distancing measures and as a result haven’t been able to access the scheme’s Wi-Fi.

“We have listened to what our customers have been telling us and we believe this gesture will really help those in greatest need during lockdown. It will benefit people of from 18 to 86 and from all kinds of backgrounds, but who have one thing in common in that they have been incredibly isolated, frustrated and lonely during these last few months. We hope residents will feel less socially isolated as they will be able to keep in touch with loved ones.”

Riverside is one of the largest provider of homelessness services in the country, and its Care and Support operation works with over 16,000 customers every year.