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HOMENESS

Rebuild communication and create paths back home.

MA 2020/2022
Keywords
Communication, Collaboration, Transparency, Human-centered
Overview

Homelessness has been part of London for hundreds of years.


We found that current services cover almost everything needed for homeless people to sustain themselves. There are also many organizations already operating in preventing homelessness and focusing on the homeless problem itself. However, they still aren’t effective enough. We saw that communication between charities was an area that had very little support.


HOMENESS is a platform to rebuild a closed communication loop for charities with a collaborative, transparent and human-centred approach. We believe that creating visibility in the system means that homeless people’s routes to obtain housing can be a lot quicker.

Collaboration

Firstly, with the support of our partner Restart Lives, we were able to learn more about the homeless problem through weekly volunteer activities. We also conducted several interviews and prototype tests with charities in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (e.g. Glassdoor, st. Mungo's etc.) to make sure we can design the project with multiple perspectives and experiences.

Background

Can we solve homelessness?

Homelessness has been part of London for hundreds of years. However, In our lifetime, homelessness in London was solved for a year through the pandemic because of a campaign named “Everyone in”. And we believe that there is an opportunity for us to make that situation become a sustainable future.


Also, London is vast. We specifically focus on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Because we live here and the council's document showed that it has the second-highest rate of homelessness in England.

Research

People are not visible in the system

We do think service design can contribute to increasing the number of housing people. So, we are contacting some experts in Kensington & Chelsea, like charities, housing organizations, volunteers, etc, including our partner RESTART.  Anyone who has the experience and knowledge of the homeless problem is an expert for us.


Through building and analysing the timeline of homeless people, we saw that communication between charities was an area that had very little support.


The key problem we found is that people are not visible in the system which means people get lost in it. It’s mainly reflected in the following three points:

1.  Not enough collaboration: Such as people can’t refer guests to suitable organizations, etc.

2. System is not transparent: e.g. charities should check the updates of their previous guests by themselves.

3. Lack of a human-centered approach: The system is very complex for staff and there are little humanized elements.

How Might We


How might we tackle the gaps in the current communication flow of homeless service with an optimized platform to get people visible in the system?

HOMENESS Service


FEATURE 1: COLLABORATION

Collaboration is divided into upstream and downstream information.


1. Upstream information: We will require each staff from different charities to provide their responsible service and add tags like general service, temporary housing, job support or immigration, etc.

2. Downstream information: HOMENESS provides tools and resources for charities to share better case studies.


In addition to online education from Case Library, Charities can also register as hosts on HOMENESS to carry out regular events offline.



FEATURE 2: TRANSPARENCY

From the moment that the new guest gets in touch with the first charity, a clear profile is created. The guest will be given a unique number for subsequent help. Following referrals, guests’ journey or feedback will be updated based on this number and notify the previous staff who have helped before.


Periodic reports to individuals and charities could help them understand their expert areas and the exact number of guests they are helping.



FEATURE 3: HUMAN-CENTERED

We create a help center for users to know our service and functions better. We want to optimize the user experience as much as possible without challenging existing users’ habits(e.g. Email system).


When people start to do a referral, we encourage staff to add personalized notes, like a greeting or brief introduction of the guest, to help colleagues know the guest situation better. In addition, the updates on the general journey, feedback, referral request, or health conditions will be notified according to different emergency levels.

Ethical Problems

We do care about ethical problems

1. All the cases will be shared anonymously with the consent of guests. Case contents are more like the guidance, trends, and service summaries than guest statements.

2. Except for the colleagues who have handled the case, other people need to request access on the platform.


Every referral, request, and sharing will be recorded by HOMENESS to ensure the security of guest information.

SPECIAL
THANKS

Firstly, we would like to show great thanks to our tutor, Judah Armani, who has been so helpful at all times. Secondly, our partner, Restart Lives, who has provided help to us with a professional perspective and the opportunities to do research up close when we were still new to homelessness, special thanks to Philip Nugent and Olivia Pyle..


In addition, we would like to thank the staff of the various charities who have helped us greatly (in chronological order):

Joseph Morris from St Mungo's;

Neil Parkinson from Glassdoor;

Fiona McCarthy from St Mungo's;

Natalie Rose-Weir from St Mungo's;

Ella Morris from CHAIN.

Team