Helena Kennedy Centre Refugee Rights Hub at Sheffield Hallam University

Liz walks through the ‘ahah’ moments that led to creating a new process for collecting electronic signatures.

Organisation Profile

What challenge did a human-centred design process help you address?

Our caseworkers who work on refugee family reunion cases needed to find smarter ways to work remotely with clients during the pandemic, and beyond. 

What were the key steps in the process?

  1. After identifying and framing our key challenge, we looked to see if anyone was already working on this challenge and what we could learn from that, or borrow, repurpose or adapt to help us. We found that there were people doing similar work with similar software but none with the exact issue we were facing.
  2. We then designed a set of questions to ask our caseworkers to identify their needs and test our assumptions. 
  3. We asked those questions of our caseworkers and caseworkers in similar organisations and analysed the findings. This was so useful and elicited unexpected answers!
  4. From those findings we created user stories so that we could capture what we wanted to achieve with our design.
  5. We reframed some of the challenges and opportunities in the stories as ‘how might we’ questions, and then organised them in an ‘impact vs effort’ matrix in order to prioritise what to work on. We found having a visual tool for prioritisation so helpful and wondered why we had not done this before!
  6. We looked for inspiration by thinking about what activities our user is doing, their behaviours and emotions. We explored what exists that might help to meet the needs of our user and then used this inspiration to sketch possible solutions.
  7. Then we got down to prototyping - so in our case we made a user guide and tested it out, gathering feedback as we went.

What were the main learnings from the work?

The user centered design process was incredibly helpful and the RA team were skilled at leading us through it. I will use the process again - it may seem difficult to carve out the time but it saves serious course corrections later on and ensures that any solutions are actually user focused. 

The process delivered lots of ‘ahah’ moments, such has:

  • Being introduced to simple and impactful tools we hadn’t used before
  • Realising the power of up-skilling our admin team (and challenging our own assumptions about where different elements of work should sit within the team).
  • Getting our best feedback about writing in Plain English from one of our trusted Arabic Interpreters

What did you end up doing or creating?

We created a new process for collecting electronic signatures on key documents from beneficiaries in order to help with their Refugee Family Reunion applications. Although this sounds simple it involved revisiting our referral process through to the first appointment with a case worker, and moving the initial call to explain the Authority to Act and Consent forms to our admin team. The admin team then send the forms to our beneficiaries to be signed electronically and are available to talk them through the process if need be (90% of the time this is not needed but we recognise everyone’s digital literacy and confidence varies).

We also made an existing app more accessible for our beneficiaries by testing it and creating simple user guides in key languages. The app was designed for use by English speaking clients of law firms who use the Clio legal database. The user guide is pretty clear, but relies on being able to read English, so we altered it to make it more visual and less wordy.

Has this work had any impact? If so, what was it?

This process is led by the admin team and frees up caseworker time. It has had the added benefits of upskilling our admin team who have learned to work with interpreters and of facilitating a warmer welcome to the hub for our beneficiaries who get more regular contact with us whilst awaiting their first appointment with a caseworker.

With the help of our user guide we have begun using the app with beneficiaries to make it easier to keep track of conversations and documents relating to their Family Reunion applications. Caseworkers are delighted because it reduces the amount of time they spend uploading evidence and email/ text conversations into our legal database.