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Older people get web savvy

Viridian has successfully completed its Active Online pilot project which delivered internet training to 85 Viridian residents, 80% of whom rated their new skills invaluable.

The pilot project, aimed to test different methods to digitally include residents over 50 years of age, was created in response to a Customer Review survey carried out in 2012 by Viridian which found that an estimated 40% of the residents did not have access to internet, majority of them being older people who lived independently in their homes.

Older people’s use of the Internet is an increasingly important method of preventing social isolation and fuel poverty, as some services and many financial deals can only be found online. Keeping the outcome of the survey in mind, two different training models were trialled - one-to-one training provided by Student@Home and group training provided by volunteers through Age UK Barnet. Alongside this, residents who had taken part in the trials received a free tablet computer and access to a free Wi-Fi internet connection which is unique within the UK social housing sector.

The report, published today, found the one-to-one model of training to be most appropriate to meet the needs of residents who may need training sessions to be tailored to overcome obstacles such as language barriers and visual impairments. Matt Campion, Director of Social Impact at Viridian, said “This has been an innovative year for Viridian especially with this project which we are aiming to launch in the New Year. We believe that older people deserve the best that the IT world can offer and the report shows that, contrary to some attitudes, they were very interested in using the Internet. Better still, we found that 70% of the residents we trained had already shared their new skills with someone else which will help to combat isolation.”

The oldest resident to take part in the project was 93, so age was no barrier to learning. The report found that learning digital skills has contributed to the older person’s sense of security and resilience, especially the availability of online shopping during the winter when illness and weather can prevent access to the shops. Furthermore, using new digital skills opened new ways for older people to interact with their community and keep their minds active by playing online games such as solitaire. A Viridian resident said “My main reason for wanting to learn was so that I could communicate with my family abroad. I have learnt to use Skype and it really is wonderful. I managed to talk to my nephew and his wife on Skype and now I have learnt how to use emails to stay in touch and send photos.”

The project will be offered to all Viridian residents aged 50 and over in early February which will significantly reduce social isolation amongst its older residents.

For more information about the Digital Inclusion scheme, please contact Helen Rowe, Research and Innovation Lead at Viridian on 0203 202 3613.


Notes for editors:
1. Viridian Housing is a charitable association founded in 1945. We own and manage more than 16,000 homes, in the Midlands, West Sussex and London.

2. Our mission is to provide high quality, good value housing for mixed income communities. Our vision is: Quality homes for you to make the most of your life.

3. Key findings of the reports:

  • 75% residents rated the organisation of their training as either ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’
  • 61% of residents felt more in touch with the world as a result of training
  • 76% residents found their tablet easy to use
  • Over half of residents are using their tablets more than once a day
  • Being online and in particular tablet based or online games are incredibly popular. Residents highlighted how being online kept their minds active.
  • Around half of all residents said they would have still taken part in the training without a free tablet computer and access to Wi-Fi
  • Around 35% of participants were already using the Internet
  • Older people want to learn how to use the Internet and are not afraid of it. A latent ageism in our society can inhibit older people from accessing ‘lifelong learning’ – no one is ‘too old’ to learn.

4. Read Matt Campion's blog on digital inclusion. Matt is the Director of Social Impact at Viridian Housing.

5. Student@Home worked in partnership with Viridian for trial purposes only and have currently submitted a bid with other organisations to be selected as the sole provider of training for the residents.

6. The full report and a summary is available on

7. For more information please contact Yeasmina Rahman
on 020 3202 3742 or


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