Nikita Shah and Nissa Ramsay conducted an independent evaluation of the Digital Design for Good Practice Programme. Read the executive summary and access the full report below.
In August 2023 an independent evaluation of the Digital Design for Good Practice programme (DDP) to review its impact, learning and sustainability came to an end. The evaluation and subsequent report were designed, conducted and authored by Nikita Shah from Hyphen Poetry and Nissa Ramsay from Think Social Tech. Below is an executive summary of the report and you can read the full report here.
Refugee Action’s Digital Design for Good Practice programme (DDP) set out to use digital and design to increase the effectiveness of services and organisations in the migrant, asylum and refugee sector. This evaluation focused on analysing three key areas of this programme: the learning from the digital and design methodology; the impact the DDP had on the migrant, asylum and refugee sector; and the sustainability of the programme based on lessons learned and future needs.
The DDP programme focused on using digital tools and design techniques to facilitate collaboration online, produce practical online resources and to share learning. For the design part this meant adopting a specific way of working (called Human and Community Centred Design) to help understand and respond to specific problems and sector challenges. This was underpinned by key principles of being user-led; innovative; connective; collaborative; inclusive; and building sector-wide best practice. Projects focused on research to understand community, stakeholder, user and sector needs (discovery), followed by a co-design process with stakeholders and Experts by Experience. Refugee Action also shared this approach through direct training courses to stakeholders.
The DDP programme ran from April 2020 to September 2023, with funding from the National Lottery Community Fund’s Digital Fund providing a variety of products to the many users; for example Coronavirus Response Handbook and Asylum Guides Multilingual Resources and established a Good Practice microsite which hosts information about projects, learning and good practice.
The DDP programme used design sprints to ensure that the end products were useful, engaging and sustainable. The sprints led to curated programmes for users including Explore and the Wellbeing Discovery Project with SIDE Labs “How might we improve the wellbeing of people working in the migration, refugee and asylum sector?”, and establishing a Wellbeing Working Group. This was set up to take the programme work forward and oversee the development of BeWell, a long term site designed to support staff in the long term and provide a practical toolkit to support organisations with staff wellbeing. The establishment and involvement of Experts by Experience (EBE) (August 2020 - ongoing) was a key part of the DPP and this focused on ensuring the meaningful involvement of people with lived experience when designing and delivering services, carrying out research, and steering the direction of projects and organisations. Additionally a community of practice was established on the online platform “Slack”, and alongside this tailored online events were, and continue, to be held.
Value and impact of the DPP programme
The DPP delivered 22 projects with participation from 174 organisations. This includes 139 frontline organisations from across the UK, comprising small and medium organisations which is broadly representative of the makeup of the sector.
The evaluation demonstrates the high value of DPP through:
- Improved digital and design skills for participants
- Supporting organisations to adapt their services in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond
- Ensuring the sharing of and growing good practice
- Connecting organisations across the sector.
- Adopting programming methods that allowed the DPP to explore and respond to emerging two key themes across the sector - Wellbeing and the meaningful involvement of Experts by Experience.
Overall, Refugee Action has surpassed its original goal of supporting 150 organisations to adapt their services. Stakeholder engagement and feedback has been positive, with many highlighting ways in which they have learnt and integrated tools, resources and skills into their own work.
Recommendations for Refugee Action
The evaluation recommended that Refugee Action:
- Commit to recruiting and resourcing an internal service design function to provide further digital support.
- Focus on initiating projects that also include an ‘exit’ strategy, as well as balancing the need to work at pace with wellbeing.
- Mobilise digital and design skills to support capacity in the sector. First, to look strategically at emerging issues and digital trends. Second, to provide coordinated responses and guidance in times of crisis.
- Lead by example by involving stakeholders in design sprints and other digital and design approaches as a priority over providing direct skills training.
- Continue to develop internal data collection and action on insights, with a close relationship between service design and Insights to Action.
- Continue to develop and share good practice, with an ongoing focus on co-design, co-production and courses to support the development of EBE work and the removing of barriers to power.
Thank you to Nikita and Nissa for their work, and to key sector stakeholders for giving up their time to be interviewed about the programme. Thank you also to all the people and organisations involved in the DDP over the last three years and to the National Lottery Community Fund. We are currently writing a new strategy for the Good Practice Team and will incorporate the learning and recommendations into the next phase of the team’s work.