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Syrian refugee settlement service

The Syrian resettlement team’s aim was to bring refugees identified as vulnerable by UNHCR into the UK as defined by current government policy. The process was slow, error-prone and had been hastily cobbled together with email folders, share folders on servers and lots of spreadsheets.

I worked with a digital team, engaging with the Syrian refugee resettlement team to develop a digital case-working tool to aid them in resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees out-of-country. The main focus was on digitising the case-work process to improve efficiency in quality case consideration, as well as the time taken to do this and creating useful management information statistics.

Tasks include:

  • Process mapping the existing way of doing things and identifying pain-points through user research.

  • Engaging the head of the service through the process map and turning him from a gate-keeper into a gate-opener.

  • Service design principles used to focus on activities, needs, goals and barriers of key potential users of the service.

  • Service analysis outcomes synthesised into 6 areas of opportunity, developed as scoping document of 3 different project scope sizes.

  • Co-led stakeholder workshop to define scope of project.

  • User journeys, screen interactions and UI for the new digital service using GDS design principles.

  • Creating paper & digital prototypes

  • User testing and evaluation with the resettlement team.

Intended Outcomes:

  • Better abilities to help vulnerable refugee families to settle in the UK.

  • Improved processes and enhanced efficiency.

  • Better quality decisions being made.

  • Less financial waste.


This is a small section from a very large process map. It was developed to understand the existing way of doing things in the case-work team, as well as engage with the team themselves. It was later used to identify pain-points and potential opportunities.

It was later used by the Syrian refugee resettlement team as a training tool, as well as being requested as a template model for several other projects across the Home Office.


The process map was later used as a basis for understanding and mapping Activities, Needs, Goals and Barriers of key potential users of the service.

It was the basis of the work to understand 6 main areas opportunity to be able to propose 3 different scope sizes of the project to the stakeholders, so they could decide on which areas of the process to focus on first.


A big win was being able to digitise certain amounts of refugee group data and then tying that to the relevant documentation.

Also being able to automate the case to get passed from one area of the case-work process to the next and be able to track this.


It was a challenge to work out and testing how to design a case-working system that the resettlement team could understand intuitively by following a uniform sequence of events.

It was desirable to follow the basic structure of the resettlement process, whilst discarding any redundant methods.


This project required constant user research and user testing with the resettlement team as the process used were extremely complex and inter-dependant with may other processes.


Developing a service process for interaction with all the third party organisations that provided crucial data, health checks and security checks.

It was very important to maintain the privacy of the refugee data and keep it locked behind the Home Office network.

Third-party organisations are given log-ins and notified by email of cases to process and then upload the results directing into the service as data.


As well as constant paper sketching, some large scale drawings were made to provoke discussions around specific service design interactions with the team.

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