IT solutions provider, Central Networks and Technologies (Central), has partnered with Horton Housing to deliver free internet access to people in supported accommodation, including the most vulnerable.
Heywood-based Central completed the pilot project in September, implementing WiFi points in a North Yorkshire location managed by the not-for-profit housing association, with a view to roll out the initiative to more sites.
While Horton Housing is managing the cost of the internet connection, Central has donated the WiFi hardware required for the implementation and carried out the installation free of charge, as well as volunteering ongoing support and maintenance of the access points.
Restrictions across the UK during the pandemic have resulted in the disenfranchisement of vulnerable people — including the homeless, disabled, young people, pensioners, and those affected with addiction — due to local services such as libraries and Jobcentres being closed or severely cut back.
As the government continues to move towards a digital-first approach, the management of welfare services, job applications, healthcare, finances, and more will all be online — evidencing the critical need of internet access for those most at risk in society.
Providing tenants with online connectivity means that they now have a vital support line during one of the most difficult periods in living memory.
Nicola Brown, sales director at Central, commented: “As an IT business, we feel we have a corporate social responsibility to ensure that everyone, regardless of where they are in life, has an internet connection to access crucial online services during this difficult year.
“We are extremely happy to partner with our client, Horton Housing, to deliver this service to their tenants, and our system engineers are dedicated to the ongoing maintenance and support of the networks.”
Steve Godson, infrastructure manager at Horton Housing, said: “The wellbeing of our tenants is of great importance to us, and in 2020 an internet connection is a basic requirement for being able to access the help they need.
“Teaming up with Central was the right choice, as the team has delivered on similar community projects in the past with other housing associations. The workforce has continued to help us tremendously with our own IT services this year, especially following the move to remote working for a lot of our staff.”
Tenants at the selected sites will continue to have free WiFi access post-pandemic.