Calvay Housing Association
summary of project:
The Learning Centre is a significant feature of the Calvay Centre, supporting several aspects of the Calvay Housing Association’s work with its tenants. The learning centre is part of the John Wheatley Learning Network (a community digital inclusion network supported by Glasgow Kelvin College) and has 12 PCs. The Digital Inclusion services include WiFi access.
A youth service (funded by Glasgow Community Planning Partnership and the People and Communities Fund and delivered in partnership with (four members of EHRA and Pavillion) operates three evenings per week, taking advantage of the learning centre:
- Monday evenings for primary school students;
- Tuesday for S1-S4 school students; and
- Thursday for primary school students.
A Youth Alcohol Information project runs on Tuesday evenings, located in the boardroom, which also supports connection to the John Wheatley Learning Network and the use of a TV for presentations.
A Job Club runs on Thursdays, using the Learning Centre for access to Universal Job Match and other sources of vacancy information, along with support for CVs etc.
The Job Club provides drop-in support for people seeking employment, and gains casual support from Calvay Housing Association staff. It has had some volunteer support but has now developed so that it’s supported by Housing Modern Apprenticeships.
Calvay Housing Association has both a website http://www.scottishhousingconnections.org/HA/Calvay/ and Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Calvay-Housing-Association-Ltd-592651367531173/timeline/, used for Housing Association service announcements, letting people know about opportunities like their white goods available, local MP surgeries…
who is it aimed at?
All local residents
how is it funded?
The job club service is provided by the Easterhouse Housing and Regeneration Alliance (formerly GECOF: (Easthall Park Housing Co-operative, Blairtummock Housing Association, Calvay Housing Association, Gardeen Housing Association, Lochfield Park Housing Association, Provanhall Housing Association, Ruchazie Housing Association and Wellhouse Housing Association) which also supports the youth club service.
housing organisation resources provided
The Housing Association provides core support for the learning centre
Yvonne Smith, the Community Development Manager, who teaches housing practice in the City of Glasgow College, has overseen the development of the Calvay Centre over the past 13 years as a key community asset, and says that the important thing to understand in developing digital inclusion services, is what has to be in place before there’s any prospect of real success.
The prerequisites she points to are:
- The need to build on trusted community relationships which make the community feel comfortable in the environment;
- The need to provide other services which get people into the building (for example, the community shop, café and partner services which are part of the community centre) so that access to the service can be supported as part of an overall package; and
- The development of front-facing customer skills in staff working with the community.
Yvonne has also experienced the difference made through providing WiFi services for customers, and notes that WiFi is used primarily for social media, and for young people, streaming audio and video, while the learning centre is used for employment, online shopping and printing (for example online boarding passes, which has occasionally been the motivation for people coming in in the first place). An interesting unexpected effect of the WiFi services has been additional connections with young people in the area, who use the service for mobile access. The mobile access used by young people for social media and streaming audio (e.g. Soundcloud) and video services (e.g. YouTube)
There are a lot of staff supporting local people, but many of the senior staff struggle to keep on top of changes in the digital world, especially the services used by younger people (e.g. Snapchat and Instagram). In addition, management of youth behaviour in the 16 years plus age group crucially requires firm management. This is made easier if an existing relationship is present and is helped by the connections with the youth project. Many volunteers find this aspect of support too challenging.
Most of the people who come forward as local volunteers are also older people without the digital skills required for effective digital communication.
Reliable support from volunteers with the right skill set is difficult to achieve.
But, offsetting these difficulties, the experience of the Association staff supporting the Calvay Centre is that the local residents who use the learning centre help each other and new users, so that the gaps are often filled by naturally arising peer support, limiting the digital support required from staff for centre users