Get Online Week 2018: National programme to equip vulnerable customers’ with digital skills

To celebrate Get Online Week Andrew Cave, Project Officer looking after Riverside’s Digital Inclusion roll out, gives an insight into what we are doing so our customers’ in Care and Support can become digital savvy.

Riverside's Andy Cave and Caroline Yau at Cangle Foyer in Haverhill get online with the free Wifi provided by Riverside.
Riverside’s Andy Cave tests the Wi-Fi connectivity at Cangle Foyer with Support Worker Caroline Yau.


In the technical age of having all kinds of information at your fingertips, it’s surprising to learn that more than four million people in the UK don’t have any digital skills, and a further 11 million have only limited computer skills, according to Lloyds Digital Index 2018.

It’s an astonishing statistic considering that 78% of the population bought goods online in the last year. Then there is email which is the most popular internet activity, the social media revolution, internet banking, applying for jobs, and not forgetting housing and welfare benefits such as Universal Credit all need to be done online.

So at Riverside it’s important that all our customers, young and old, living in supported accommodation and Retirement Living schemes across the country have the opportunity to become digital savvy. As research suggests that vulnerable customers’ in these groups are less likely to have the digital skills to help live an independent life – whether it’s a young person living in supported accommodation or an 80-year-old in a Retirement Living scheme.

The digital roll out is being funded by Riverside and involves installing Wi-Fi across 200 of our schemes so customers’ can access it for free. They will also get computer training so they have the necessary skills to use the internet by themselves. First to experience the benefits of becoming computer literate were customers’ at Cangle Foyer in Suffolk where it was piloted, and so far Wi-Fi has been rolled out to nine schemes.

Andrew Cave, Project Officer for Riverside’s Digital Inclusion roll out, with customers' at Cangle Foyer in Suffolk.
Riverside’s Andy Cave with customers at Cangle Foyer.


The roll-out is in the early stages, but our mission is to empower customers’ so they are able to do five key tasks online, unaided:

  • Fill out online forms to access essential services, for example to find a new home.
  • Apply for benefits such as Universal Credit online and maintain their claim.
  • Carry out job searches and find work or seek new employment.
  • Find information to help them in their everyday lives and keep in touch with friends or family.
  • Access online accounts to pay rent and report repairs etc.

Digital inclusion for customers’ is a key element in Riverside’s Psychologically Informed Environments (PIEs) approach to help customers’ increase their self-esteem, belief and hope, to achieve their goals and move on in their lives.