Level Up’s driving force wins national recognition

An inspirational colleague at Raven Housing Trust has won national praise for his tireless work supporting residents over the past year.

Steve Ward, our Digital Inclusion Officer, has launched and run our phenomenally successful ‘Level Up’ project to help families struggling to afford a computer for home schooling their children during the pandemic.

The scheme refurbishes old donated laptops and gifts them to schoolchildren to help them with their academic studies.

Steve has now been shortlisted in the prestigious Housing Heroes Awards for Inspirational Colleague of the Year for going ‘above and beyond’ in his hard work and commitment to the project.

Angela Ellis, Raven’s Head of Community Investment & Partnerships said: “Steve’s compassion and commitment to improving lives is an inspiration to everybody at Raven, so we are delighted to see his outstanding work recognised on a national level.

“He has touched the lives of thousands of people in his time with us, and we are so grateful for the energy and care he puts into his role every day.”

Steve has worked with 1,500 families during his six years at Raven, leading a team which has given back the equivalent of £500,000 a year to the community by supporting them to get online and explore the opportunities offered by the worldwide web.

His drive and determination have resulted in the Level Up initiative exceeding expectations within a few months, making a huge difference to families and schools across Redhill, Reigate and Banstead.

The scheme’s target for 2021 was 500 laptops but this was exceeded by mid-March, with over 500 gifted to students at 11 schools in the Reigate and Banstead borough.

It is now on track to donate 1,000 laptops by July and generate £1.5 million of ‘social value’, the positive impact for Raven residents and our wider communities.

Although 66-year-old Steve plans to retire in 2022, his passion and dedication to making a difference to struggling families means he has got the project to a point where it will continue into the future – with a bank of refurbished laptops ready to give to new school pupils in September.

Winners of the Housing Heroes Awards will be announced at an awards ceremony in Manchester in September.