Services Week at Stockport Council (and how we can make it better next time)

(First published on the #DigitalStockport blog – February 21, 2020)

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Services Week is an annual celebration of transformation and end to end service design in central and local government. Many live and remotely hosted events happened across England and Scotland, and for the first time we at Stockport Council joined in.

What we did during the week
We started small this year to test the water, so our Services Week consisted of group viewings of the remote lunch time case studies and one community of practice session on user research. We want everyone to know at least a little bit about human centered design and service design, so the sessions were advertised and open to a wide range of colleagues from different areas and disciplines.

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Re-designing the way we recruit foster carers – Part 2

(Co-written with Eve Bello and Amy Wren. First published on the #DigitalStockport blog – August 30, 2019)

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In our last post, we talked about how we approached developing and delivering a new recruitment journey for foster carers, and what each stage of the process involved. This time we will explain each ‘project’ in more detail and how we got to where we are now.

1. Website content – drawing people in and supporting them to take action

From our research, it was clear that the information on our website could benefit from improvement so that potential foster carers could feel engaged, informed and ready to start their fostering journey. We held interviews with foster carers, carried out competitor analysis and created empathy maps and personas to understand what information users needed from the website.

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Re-designing the way we recruit foster carers – Part 1

(Co-written with Eve Bello and Amy Wren. First published on the #DigitalStockport blog – August 2, 2019)

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‘Discovery’ phase

For the past year, the Digital by Design team have been working with Stockport Council’s fostering service with the aim of improving the way that the service recruits and retains foster carers.

After an intensive research phase that included interviewing, workshops, focus group sessions and user testing sessions, we highlighted that:

  • we’re not placing ourselves competitively against Independent Fostering Agencies (IFA’s) which means that we’re losing out on recruiting potential foster carers
  • the existing process of becoming a foster carer is lengthy, isolating and not clearly defined
  • there are various pain points for staff along the fostering process, impacting the efficiency and experience of it

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48 hours to change the world

(Co-written with Rinto Cyriac. First published on the #DigitalStockport blog – April 18, 2019)

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What we learned from this year’s Global Service Jam

This year’s global service jam took place from the 29th – 31st March. All kinds of people, familiar with service design or not, gathered at 124 locations worldwide to ideate and prototype around a surprise brief. We attended the sessions in Manchester and Liverpool and, as first time service design jammers, took away lots of learning that we hope to apply in our work going forward.

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Gaining insights into the fostering user journey

(First published on the #DigitalStockport blog – August 13, 2018 )

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Previous blogs have mentioned our move away from a distinct digital programme to an agile organisation harnessing digital and other tools to meet the needs of our users in the most cost effective way. We have made significant progress in improving the relationship between IT and services and as collaborative teams we work together on the improvement of user journeys and jointly prioritise work.

A few months ago, the Digital by Design team started working with Stockport’s fostering team (part of Stockport Family, the council’s integrated service for children, young people and families.) Fostering was picked  as a priority area to tackle, requiring an in depth discovery phase and the beginning of a holistic service re-design.

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Service design in 3 questions

(First published on the #DigitalStockport blog – May 24, 2018 )

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During my first few weeks at Stockport Council I noticed that many of the key principles and methods of service design were being applied, but not necessarily identified or externalized as such. This not only makes it more difficult to demonstrate the value service design has brought/can bring to the table, but is also a barrier to teams thinking more strategically about service design approaches.

To kick start the process of raising awareness of what service design actually is, what it entails and what terminology it involves, I ran a Lunch and Learn session (a casual 20 minute presentation).  In “10 Things You Should Know About Service Design” I tried to capture what (I believe) the essentials around this fairly new design discipline are. To keep it short and blog appropriate, here are my top three…

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Years From Now

How can things remain physical  in a digital, virtual world?

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Sculptural exploration of digital minds

We are, undoubtedly moving towards a world in which the everyday things that surround us are becoming more virtual and less physical. One can find apps for absolutely anything, replacing much that once occupied physical space in digital format. Things like photos, music, movies and letters are, no longer tangible ‘objects’, but rather a file somewhere, on some device.

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Cable and Crystal

A trip to North Greenwich

Emirates Flyway and The Crystal, Greenwich Peninsula
Emirates Flyway and The Crystal, Greenwich Peninsula

Another part of London that I had not yet explored was the Greenwich Peninsula. Getting the cable car across the Thames from North Greenwich, visiting The Crystal (one of the world’s most sustainable buildings with a unique exhibition dedicated to the Future of Cities) and exploring the area on a sunny day was an ideal day trip.
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‘Scrapstore’ Volunteering

Joining the Work and Play Scrapstore team

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Having a long summer holiday ahead of me, and having massively enjoyed the last time I got into volunteering, I was delighted to have been invited into the Scrapstore as part of the team. It’s a real treasure chest of what others have considered ‘rubbish’ (out of season wallpaper, textile scraps, test prints etc.) but what schools, communities, families, artist and designers can turn into fantastically creative projects…

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