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Thousands get online thanks to Black Country project

A £6.9m project that has supported thousands of people in the Black Country to improve their digital skills and get online has come to a close.

The Black Country Click Start project, which was led by Midland’s housing association whg and GreensquareAccord, helped an impressive 3,591 participants learn how to access online services and make the most of the internet.

The project, which was jointly funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and European Social Fund (ESF), was set up in 2016 to help vulnerable people use the internet to manage their money and find training, volunteering or employment opportunities.

It was targeted at social housing tenants who would be affected by welfare reform changes such as the introduction of Universal Credit.

It proved so successful that the programme was extended twice, coming to an end in April 2023. Over that period 3,587 participants increased their ability to use the internet with confidence, and 2,005 benefited from financial and money advice such as maximising welfare benefits, reducing debt and securing savings through websites.

Dale Stewart, Black Country Click Start Project Manager at whg, said: “This project has made an enormous difference to families and individuals across the Black Country.

“Participants increased their financial and digital skills, enabling them to deal with debt and money problems more effectively and improving access through the internet to a wider range of support services. Not only this, they were better able to access employment and skills opportunities, gain in confidence and got to know others in their community.”

Partners involved in the project included ten organisations with six housing associations: whg, GreenSquareAccord, Black Country Housing Group, Wolverhampton Homes, Trident Housing, Ashley Community Housing, Citizens Advice Sandwell-Walsall, Walsall College, Remploy and Groundwork.

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