Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association – Lowri’s story

Digital Communities

Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association – Lowri’s story

Lowri* is in her 30s with a young family. She hadn’t used a laptop or pc since school and said that she had no internet skills at all. She had a smart phone, but only used it for Facebook. As part of the Welsh Government/Digital Communities Wales laptop loan scheme, Lowri signed up to loan a laptop; as part of the scheme she also agreed to take part in internet skills sessions.

Lowri had previously attended a slow cooking course run by the housing association, a course which is run over four sessions with the participant keeping their slow cooker at the end of it. When the laptop loan opportunity came up, Lowri was looking forward to searching recipes online so that she could use her slow cooker and search for recipes to feed her family on a budget. Lowri was also interested in how she could use the laptop to potentially save money and look at budgeting tools. Staff at the housing association gave Lowri support to set up an email address so that she could look at energy comparison websites – as a result she can now keep an eye on her tariff and make sure she is on the lowest possible rate. She was also shown how to make online grant applications such as warm home discount and the Welsh Water HelpU scheme. Lowri had no experience in applying online, so after checking she was eligible for such grants she was helped to do this online. She was pleasantly surprised at how simple this was; she stated that she would have been afraid of even trying to do it before, but now she would feel confident showing her friends and family how to apply. As a result Lowri saved approximately £330 through the Welsh Water scheme, and £140 through the warm home discount. Lowri has also signed up to the Money Advice service online budgeting tool to keep an eye on her finances.

Lowri continues to use the laptop to look at recipes, learn how to save money and also for social interaction such as forums etc. She has connected with her neighbours in the street on Facebook, and can also find out about Community events and Merthyr housing projects on the Merthyr Housing Facebook page. The laptop has become a valuable tool for Lowri and her family.

*Names have been changed to protect identity.

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