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Coping with COVID, digital divide

Coping with COVID: Poorest hardest hit by digital exclusion

Oasis Community Housing is rolling out the next phase of its response to the impact of COVID-19, as the charity strives to continue offering the best possible support to the people it serves. The latest ‘Coping with COVID’ project is being made possible thanks to a generous Community Match Fund grant from The Vardy Foundation and DCMS.

Lockdowns and prolonged restrictions, resulting from the spread of COVID-19, have had a major impact on charities frontline services; hindering – if not altogether preventing – the face to face contact that had been at the centre of Oasis Community Housing’s crisis (Basis), supported accommodation (Home), domestic abuse (Empower) and employment (Aspire) services.

As the charity has had to adapt to more remote ways of working, digital exclusion has been a major issue for many of the people who it supports. With the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR) at the University of Cambridge highlighting that COVID stands to make the impacts of digital exclusion worse for the millions of people affected, and the poorest will be hit the hardest.

One of the outputs of Oasis Community Housing’s ‘Coping with COVID’ project is digitally-enabled devices to help get people online looking for work, accessing benefits, education and training and enabling them to keep in contact with their Aspire Coach. Delivering vital support at a time when national unemployment levels are rising.

The charity’s Head of Programmes, Lynne Livsey, said, “The Community Match Fund grant will also enable us to work with the National Domestic Abuse Charity Safe Lives to commission specialist domestic abuse training for all of our frontline staff to increase our capacity to deal with a growing need for support.

“Our experienced team have provided vital support to women who are dealing with domestic abuse, often alongside other major health risk factors such as homelessness, substance misuse and enduring mental health problems in the context of a global pandemic. But it has been a year of unprecedented challenges.”

‘Coping with COVID’ will deliver: training for the charity’s residents; additional training of its housing staff; further improved standard of the housing; specialist domestic abuse training; specialist emotional support for those in severe need; digital inclusion for beneficiaries; and improved digital access for staff.

To find out more, follow @oasiscomhousing on its social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn) throughout March as they follow its Resettlement team, which was established in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.