North-East students have been getting animated about housing and public services.
For the BTEC diploma students at New College Durham have designed a user-friendly video outlining the different services offered by local housing association Cestria Community Housing and Durham County Council.
Despite posters, recorded telephone announcements and website and Facebook posts on Cestria’s sites, callers kept confusing the two organisations, particularly since the council has been sharing Cestria’s Community Hub in Chester-le-Street, Durham, since 2013.
Customer services manager Lisa Coverdale said: “We’ve had members of the public ringing us to report missing bus passes, problems with street lighting and pest control – all county council matters.
“Although we signposted them to the council we needed a way of making it clear what services we offered and what services the council was responsible for.”
Thanks to the college’s involvement with Cestria’s Online Owls digital inclusion service, which sees students take part in “techy tea parties” helping the public get on line, Level 3 diploma in IT students Aaron Cant, Liam Patterson and Morgan Gent were drafted in to come up with a solution.
New College Durham’s Veronica Spowart said: “Cestria wanted an animation that was very user-friendly and accessible by anyone, including someone who didn’t have any digital skills.”
“It had to be easy to understand and show that, if you wanted information about recycling or rubbish collection, for example, you rang the council, but if the issue was to do with your rent, you rang Cestria.”
While Liam and Morgan carried out all the technical documentation, Aaron created the video, digitally drawing all the icons for the services supplied by each organisation.
The video now shows how Durham County Council’s remit includes refuse collections, housing benefit, street lighting, council tax payments, dog fouling, and homelessness support, with Cestria dealing with rent and gardening services for its properties and financial inclusion enquiries.
As well as going on show at the Hub, it’s hoped to post the video on Cestria’s website and Facebook page.
Veronica added: “Part of our IT course involves students carrying out work experience, but in the world of computing it can be very difficult for them to get placements.
“Working with Cestria means our students can benefit from going out and helping the community by supporting at the techy tea parties, or by doing work like this video.
“It’s all valuable experience that they can put on their CVs to show future employers what they can really do.”