Refugees Welcome

Credit: United Nations Photo

Credit: UN Photo

I’m going to a London hack-weekend on the 2nd October with a proposition. I’d like to create an easier way for people to offer to host refugees in their homes for a period of time.

This recent newspaper article gave advice for people looking to offer a room, but the process is far from straightforward. Citizens UK and 38 Degrees have demonstrated that there are a lot of people in the UK who are willing to help, but right now there is no accessible online service in the UK. But it wouldn’t take long to make…

To get ready for the weekend, I’m talking with the expert organisations who have been organising such support for years, including Boaz Trust, Assist, Housing Justice, and Refugees Welcome in Germany about how we might quickly create a light-weight digital service wrapper that could save them work in gathering potential hosts, and lower the barrier for people wanting to volunteer.

We are going to need help from people with a whole bunch of different skills, including designers, developers, user researchers, asylum experts, local authority housing experts, service managers, data analysts, and delivery managers. I’d love your help with this. If you’re interested, you can either come along to the hack-weekend or get in touch through Twitter.


I made a thing

Every workplace has different values: different cultures and stories that shape and reflect staff habits. When I was at the Treasury, credibility came from getting a ‘measure’ into the budget, with cheers as the Chancellor duly read it out at the dispatch box. At Google, it came from having been there a long time – being one of the apostles, there at the start. At the Department of Energy & Climate Change, it was being recognised as expert in your particular field.

Where I currently work is different. At GDS, one thing that reliably brings respect is to be able to say ‘I made a thing’. Things like Roo’s JargoneJordan’s departure lounge, or Richard’s dials. I don’t make many things, alas. Just words, and occasionally pictures. But it is a complete pleasure to work with those who do.

I prefer not to carry a bag around, but I often want to take a tablet or a book. Limited by the size of my pockets, I looked around for things to buy. This shoulder holster looked a little strange. And the neoprene laptop rucksack just looked hot. I wanted something slim that could fit under a jacket. So rather than buying a thing, I asked a friend to help make something better. I drew a sketch and worked with Emily to cut and stitch a prototype from a cotton/linen mix. After a bit more measuring, cutting and trimming, voilà.