An under-used communal lounge at de Montfort House, an inner city tower block of over 230 flats in Leicester, has been transformed into a Digi-Lounge for the block’s residents to use.
A group of residents - Ibrahim Queita, Osama Kayyali, Modou Camara, Matt Hazle and Kevin Tinklin - worked with Waterloo's community development officer Eileen Neelands, to bring their virtual idea to life.
After gaining the backing of other residents, the group secured grant support from Waterloo to pay for and fit computers. They also used our IT team for help and advice.
“The Digi-Lounge brings many benefits for residents such as access to online services like paying their rents and applying for jobs and benefits, as well as communicating with family and friends abroad,” says Osama Kayyali, the project group’s coordinator.
“It also brings people together and helps those who find themselves isolated."
Project manager Ibrahim Queita says, “We’re all very excited about the Digi-Lounge. There are lots of young single people who live here and some don’t have a TV, never mind a computer with internet access. It really helps boost people’s quality of life.”
The project has also helped those involved in its planning. Ibrahim is now working for a recruitment company. "Being able to talk in my interview about volunteering for the Digi-Lounge project definitely helped me to get the job,” he says.
The Digi-Lounge is open to de Montfort House residents from 6am until midnight and can be used for an hour and a half at time, so as many residents as possible can use it.
The project group are also running drop-in IT sessions in the Digi-Lounge for other residents. These include help with basic online skills, plus 'Techy and Tea' visits to local independent living schemes to share skills with older residents.
"It's been sociable and uplifting for everyone," said Eileen after a visit to Epperstone Court in Nottingham.
"Residents were very enthusiastic to learn from their visitors. They loved finding music clips of wartime songs on YouTube and exploring places on Google Earth. One gentleman was thrilled to use it to look at the village in Malaysia where he grew up."