Coventry Citizens Advice (CCA) is calling on residents - who either lack the confidence in using the internet or in some cases, do not have access to it - to contact its digital money coach.
The role – a post funded by Coventry Building Society - is part of the CCA’s efforts to provide free access and training to Coventry residents. The digital service is being promoted ahead of national campaign Get Online Week 2017, which runs from 2 to 8 October.
Since the service first began in June 2016, nearly £550,000 has been unlocked for those using the service through a combination of savings and financial gains. These individuals have ranged in age from 18 to 84, and come from 35 different nationalities. Research* has found that of those who have received help, 79 per cent felt that their confidence had grown in using the internet, and 59 per cent had committed to using the internet more frequently.
In return for its funding, staff from the Building Society – which employs 2500 people at its head offices in Binley and Walsgrave and its 13 branches across the city - are receiving CCA training on how to manage and interact with vulnerable members.
Sarah Evans, Coventry CCA’s Digital Money Coach, said: “There is a high percentage of Coventry residents lacking the confidence, or in some instances, equipment needed to send and receive emails, use a search engine, browse the internet or complete application forms. These are often the only way many things such as grants and benefits can be accessed. We could be the answer if you are in this position, so please get in touch.”
Darin Landon, Distribution Director at Coventry Building Society, added: “We are firmly rooted in the communities in which we serve and where our members and employees live. We understand that digital inclusion and skills are hugely important, not only in accessing today’s services but also in maximising growth and job creation across the region. The partnership with Coventry Citizens Advice is one of the ways we support our communities, and is also a great way our staff can learn more about supporting vulnerable members.”
A user of the service commented: “The digital service has already taken a huge weight off our shoulders. The annoying thing is we were not aware that we could apply for any of the benefits available as they are not widely advertised. We have really struggled over the last few years.”
The CCA offers free, independent, confidential and impartial advice on issues such as benefits, work, debt and money, housing, law, immigration and health. Call 0344 111444 (Mon to Fri, 10am to 4pm), go to www.advicebuddy.org or visit in person (Mon to Fri, 9.30am) at Kirby House, Little Park Street, Coventry CV1 2JZ