Finding support services near you: weeknote 27/03/20

This week’s weeknote is brought to you by team member Meg Dibb-Fuller .

Hope you’re keeping healthy and safe during these uncertain times.

Before I go into an update, here’s a sneak peek into the fabulous human engine (and home offices) behind the project this week… 

Proving our hypothesis

Since we redefined our problem statement, our plan was to design the product to put the onus on organisations keeping their information up to date – on their own websites and social media – and for us to signpost our visitors to these channels. This was the only way we could see our ‘directory’ being a success. Otherwise we would be adding to the problem (another ‘directory’) rather than taking away (a single ‘directory’).

We’ve had the opportunity to test this with the arrival of COVID-19. And the good news is (yes, there is some): this model is working.

We continue to check in with listed organisations to make sure they are still open but we barely need to enquire if they’re keeping their websites and social media up to date. They know that, if they don’t, nobody knows what they are up to. This is putting us in good stead for the next phase of our journey.


Living in the now with one foot in the future

We are delighted that the map is meeting the needs of those who need it right now, but we need to be thinking about how it can flex, adapt and scale to meet the demands of the end-users once we get back to ‘normality’. More info on the longer term project in previous weeknotes.

We have started tapping into the heads behind tech companies and local authorities to see how we can partner up on our approach over the coming weeks. Watch this space as these convos progress.

How can you help?

  1. Keep sharing the map across your own marketing channels (newsletters, intranet, websites, social media etc)
  2. Tweet! Here is some content that may help you get going
  3. If you know of an organisation that should be featured on the map but isn’t, please ask them to fill in this form
  4. Give us some feedback. Are we missing anything on the map – orgs or categories? Have any suggestions? Get in touch today

That’s all folks. Look after yourselves (but please don’t stockpile loo roll!)

Finding support services near you: weeknotes 19/03/20

This week’s weeknote is brought to you by team member Meg Dibb-Fuller

What a week!

For the Finding Support Services project team it’s been a week full of new trials, new websites and new team members!

A reminder for those who aren’t sure of where this project came from, this digital project is sponsored by the City and Hackney Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) to help Joe Bloggs (a fictional person) from London Fields (his mates and his health and care team, also fictional) to find the right support that he needs as close to home as possible, quickly and easily.

We were tickling along quite nicely with the project and then… boom. Covid-19 hit us with a bang. 

Responding to Covid-19

Over the weekend, the number of positive Covid-19 tests increased rapidly across the UK. As such, we were asked this question on Monday morning:

“How can you grow a minimum viable digital product from a small trial into a business-as-usual service, with the potential to be used by thousands of residents and health and care professionals across City and Hackney?”

Ermmmm…. :/

Well, this is what we did.

The project team rallied around and, using data gathered from our minimum viable product (MVP) in Well St, pulled together a map of local voluntary and support services – live in 36 hours from inception to delivery. 

There are many reasons why were could accomplish this:

  1. Strong Relationships – Hackney CVS’s relationship with the Integrated Care Partnership and the voluntary and community sector. The information and data gathered was a core reason as to why we could get this up and running as quickly as we did
  2. Comradery and risk taking HackIT turning an existing prototype into a usable template. Read more about it here (the map template is open source on GitHub for reuse if you need it!)
  3. Flexibility – the resources (laptops, online tools, etc) and trust in our team that enabled flexible working from home
  4. Following Agile Principles – we were able to adapt to feedback and within the first 24 hours had fixed two bugs (inc. the map not being visible on Internet Explorer – sorry, NHS staff) and added two features (inc. making the map easier to navigate) 

Phew, take a breath. 

Before you get in touch and ask us the million dollar question: how is this map staying up to date?

Well, the original plan was to put the onus on organisations to keep their information up to date on their own websites and social media, and for us to signpost our visitors to these channels. This remains the case. However, the current situation being as it is, there was not enough time to build an automated account creation, verification and reverification workflow and we have had to adapt. 

We continue to urge listed organisations to keep their websites and social media up to date but we are checking in with them regularly to make sure they are doing this, and are remaining open. All the while building relationships, and driving home the importance of up to date online information that is so central to our delivery. 

How can you help?

  1. Share the web link across your own marketing channels (newsletters, intranet, websites, social media etc) – we are happy to help pull content together 
  2. Send us links to any comms you’ve done and we will reshare!
  3. If you know of a local organisation that would want to be featured on the map, please ask them to fill in this form

What’s next?

So much. We’ll be in touch next week once we have managed to take a breath and prioritise what we ‘must do’ vs what we ‘should’ or ‘could do’. 

Until then. Keep healthy and safe.  

PS Yesterday we were the 3rd most visited page on – after the Homepage and Coronavirus pages! Proves how much this project is valued – and needed.

Finding support services near you (formerly Directory of services) weeknotes 17/01/20

This week, we’ve been busy trialling our chosen database, MiDoS, and analysing the results from our interviews and surveys with local organisations. 

Before departing for the slopes, Chris from Intuiti – the company that owns MiDoS – kindly sorted us out with a login to the admin interface. It is through this route that organisations can enter their details into the MiDoS database, ready to be pulled into any front-end website we choose. 

Meg and Winston tested the out-the-box interface and we are pleased to report that, with zero training, it’s very easy to use. We’ll verify this with volunteers from the organisations themselves but we couldn’t help having a poke about ourselves in the meantime. 

There are a few fields we want to tweak before we open it up to organisations and we’ll be working with MiDoS to configure those to suit our needs. And we also want to apply our own taxonomy to organisations, based on the services they provide, so that end users can find the services they need.

Our user research lead, Wing, has finished interviewing voluntary organisations large and small about their digital presence; and our survey on the same subject has closed. We’ve found that 90% of organisations (18/20) use their own website to market themselves and their activities, and many supplement this with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote individual events. One of the two organisations that doesn’t have a website expressed a desire to have one, which we hope to address through the ‘upskilling’ arm of this project.

Only 10% of organisations (2/20) have an up to date entry in the existing iCare directory. One of them, which did not have its own site, said they did get referrals from it. The rest cited “lack of time”, “it’s not used”, “I can’t remember the password” or “I don’t know how to do it” as reasons why it wasn’t updated. 35% (7/20) were not listed in iCare at all.

We can conclude that only one organisation saw the existing directory as a key part of its digital strategy. What does that mean for this project? Is the directory dead?

We don’t think so. With iCare, organisations are asked to update too many extraneous details that they’re already updating on their own websites (eg opening hours, minutiae of activities). Many don’t bother, and end users have stopped trusting the information. Equally, iCare doesn’t provide sufficient information on what the organisations actually do and consequently doesn’t encourage click-throughs to organisations’ own sites. Finally, its front-end design tucks the directory right at the bottom and also fails to encourage users to browse through to other organisations providing similar services.

We intend to address these issues with this project and, with the benefit of Agile and continual testing, we’ll be able to make sure we stay on track. It’s also worth highlighting that one interviewee wanted a user-friendly directory that not only signposts clients to them but that they can signpost clients to.

One clarification following our renaming exercise. Although we are now calling this project ‘Finding support services near you’, this isn’t reflective of any potential name for the directory. It’s simply the working title of the project so that those involved can understand readily what we are trying to achieve.

We rounded off the week with a planning session for our ‘How might we… verify an organisation’ workshop for next week. We’ll let you know the outcome of our collective creativity in next week’s update. If you can’t contain your excitement until then, you can always distract yourselves with Megxit.