A PILOT scheme which was launched in 2020 will be rolled out permanently due to the success and positive reception it has had.
IT firm Allteks was engaged to provide Citizen’s Advice Southampton with technology which allows people who are struggling with IT or do not have access to technology at home to use the service virtually.
The firm built a virtual hub inside the city’s library, which allows one person at a time to use a computer that has an easy-to-use video conferencing platform, Vectera, installed allowing them talk to a member of the service who is working from home.
It is a one-person room that is thoroughly sanitized between uses that sits within the library.
Now, the pilot has been fully delivered and the decision has been made by Southampton City Council that the programme will remain a permanent fixture in the council-owned building.
Allteks was brought on board after the charity began looking into ways to provide virtual meetings for members of the community who need to access help but are unable to because of a lack of technology or understanding around how it works.
The technology that it has installed will allow people to scan document, screen share easily and have access to their cases within a completely secure online file.
It will remain involved with the scheme as a digital partner and is looking into rolling out similar schemes in other areas within the region.
CEO, Don Iro, from Southampton said he is pleased with how the pilot went and is looking forward to seeing the benefits of the scheme.
He said: ‘There are so many positives to this scheme that go beyond the fundamental reasons for launching it. For example, it means that case workers are now able to work virtually – resulting in less traffic on the roads, meaning a reduced carbon footprint. The benefits keep coming.
‘For Allteks, it is great to be able to be at the heart of such an important project that will help the city and local community so much.’
Liz Donegan, chief officer at Citizen’s Advice Southampton said: ‘Our work with Allteks is a game-changer. Covid has meant the closure of our traditional face to face drop-in services, this is the way most of our very vulnerable clients contact us. The pandemic has exposed the level of digital exclusion faced by many of our most vulnerable clients, many who have very limited or no access to the technology most of us take for granted. We set ourselves the challenge to develop a video conferencing hub in a public space that could be used by anyone, most importantly by those who have no digital skills. More we needed to scan documents remotely and join third parties to meetings. The fantastic team at Allteks made this possible and more – we can’t thank them enough. We’re now working to develop the concept so it can be used by other agencies locally and share our learning across the network of Citizens Advice nationally with the aim we contribute to the work to make our services accessible to all.’
Allteks client partner, Muhammad Din said: ‘It was a rewarding experience to have been involved in this programme, especially seeing how it worked as an enabler for essential services to continue being provisioned. We are excited to continue working closely with Citizen’s Advice to deliver solutions of benefit to the public.’
Allteks has been running for 20 years in February and is also working with organisations within the third sector such as local enterprise partnerships and local authorities.
It provides cloud computing systems, co-managed IT services, disaster recovery and business VOIP solutions.