The homes of residents in four high rise apartment blocks in Kirkby will be supplied with free-of-charge WiFi access thanks to a pioneering new initiative delivered by One Ark, part of the First Ark Group, and its partners including the ITS Technology Group.
As part of the project those living in one of the 256 flats in the Gaywood Green residential block, a scheme run by Knowsley Housing Trust, will gain a free tablet and free-of-charge access to a variety of helpful websites including essential council services and job search sites, plus useful health, housing and bank services.
Alongside the free service, residents will have the choice to upgrade and purchase discounted full WiFi access on a pay-as-you-go basis, an option that has been specifically designed to give families flexibility when their income fluctuates throughout the year. This will allow them to view the full internet for as little as £10 per month with no long term contract, line rental, credit check or installation fee.
Residents who want to learn how to use the internet will be able to join weekly training and support sessions where they will learn how to use their tablets and the internet.
The idea of the project has proved so popular that several housing associations across the country are considering replicating the idea for their tenants.
Tony Cahill, executive director at One Ark, says: “There are many reasons why people in our region can’t get online and through no fault of their own it could be hindering their chances of accessing job opportunities, essential services and future support. We have to change this.
“One Ark exists to increase opportunities and create resilient communities in Knowsley, generating opportunities for people to make inspiring changes to their lives. This project is the latest in a line of initiatives which strive to do just this; we are giving people the skills they need in this digital age. The way in which the service has been set up makes it as easy as possible for residents to take advantage of the benefits that the internet has to offer.”
As an extension, the scheme will also offer low cost WiFi services to up to 900 local businesses within a five kilometre radius and should the initiative be successful, it could be rolled out to cover up to 14,000 homes across Merseyside.
Roy Shelton, CEO of ITS Technology Group adds: “We are delighted to have been selected by the First Ark Group to deliver its WiFi pilot scheme. It is an honour to work with a socially responsible business that is willing to tackle digital exclusion head on by taking practical measures. We are 100 per cent committed and confident to giving our best to ensure that our partnership with the organisation works to benefit the people of Knowsley.”