Tenants living in council sheltered housing schemes have been given some extra help to boost their IT skills from someone very close to home.

John White lives at the Erw Gerrig sheltered housing scheme in Rhos. He was able to become a Digital IT Champion after he received training from Wrexham Council, UCATT (Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians), and more recently from Digital Communities Wales who are working to help people access and use the internet.

John said: “We’ve recently had wi-fi installed in sheltered housing schemes which means all the tenants are now able to get onto the internet.

“This is such a great tool for us as it allows us to do so all sorts of things like keep in touch with relatives, shop online and look up subjects that we are interested in.

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“My job is really just to get the tenants up to a level where they can carry on learning by themselves. I start them off with simple tasks like pointing and clicking the mouse, using the keyboard and using the internet browser.”

“It only takes a little bit of training for them to see the potential of what it’s possible to do online and then they’re away!

“I currently run regular sessions at the sheltered housing schemes in Erw Gerrig and Llys Y Mynydd in Rhos and St Michaels in Ruabon. I’m also about to start doing tasters at Llys Y Graig in Plas Madoc.

“They are free for tenants to join and there’s potential for this to keep growing as we get more tenants on board. I’m very proud to be a part of it.”

John White (council tenant & Digital IT Champion) with one of his pupils, Sheila Wildsmith

Sheltered housing being made “fit for the future”

There are 22 sheltered housing schemes operated by the council across the county borough. They provide accommodation especially designed to meet the needs of older people.

Unlike nursing and residential homes, each tenant has their own self-contained flat, bedsit or bungalow. Communal lounges are available for tenants’ social and recreational activities and a Warden and a Community Alarm Centre provide 24-hour cover in the case of emergencies.

Lead Member for Housing, Cllr David Griffiths, said: “We’ve been carrying out a huge amount of work recently to ensure our sheltered housing schemes are fit for the future and it’s good to see that tenants are making the most of the opportunity to get online.

“I’d like to thank John for the work he’s put in as a digital champion and for volunteering his time to share his skills with our tenants. It’s great to see his classes are going so well.”

“As well as installing wi-fi, new kitchens and bathrooms are also being offered to tenants as part of our Welsh Housing Quality Standard project. We’ve also installed new heating systems in many schemes and we’re upgrading the lights in communal areas.

“I would encourage anyone who is interested or may have a friend or relative who might benefit from this housing option to contact one of our estate offices and see what vacancies are available.”

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