Housing project’s innovative engagement solution
The James McLean Project (JMP) provides accommodation and support to young men and women aged 16-17. Given the age of those who use the service, gathering written feedback had always been difficult and the project was determined to find a quick and efficient way to share news.
Gavin Spence, JMP Manager, explained: “We have various ways to gather feedback and provide updates, but all in paper form. We also have a six-monthly questionnaire but we historically struggled to get people to fill out these forms and make suggestions to improve the service.
“Almost all of the residents spend their lives glued to their phones, so it seemed a glaringly obvious solution was to give them access to the information electronically. Soon, we are hopeful that residents will be able to share their ideas with us at any time.”
The app is currently with the Strategic Innovation Team and Business Development Team at Glasgow City Council, which is ironing out any issues before the proposed launch.
When it launches, JMP has proposed that they will have three staff acting as administrators and all new residents will be invited to join the app for the length of their stay.
The app will only be accessed by staff and residents with content moderated to ensure all feedback, including criticisms, is presented appropriately.
To ensure the app meets a wide variety of needs, the project involved the Glasgow Homelessness Information and Feedback Team. JMP also encouraged three of its residents to attend the Glasgow Kelvin College campus in Springburn to support its development and Gavin added: “One of our residents attending the campus even received the College’s Community Achievement Award and was granted funding for a new laptop to help with her applications for further education and employment.”
Once the app is launched, people will be instantly updated at the touch of a button. However, there is one key benefit that Gavin says will outweigh the others:
“We always have residents who are not comfortable in groups and will rarely comment on service provision or put ideas forward. Now I can tell them: ‘If you don’t want to tell me, tell the app. In your own time and your own words. It’s totally anonymous’. ”
Tony Valbonesi, from the Care Inspectorate, was full of praise for the project after conducting an inspection of JMP. Tony said: “I think this in an innovative approach for engaging with these young people, whose voices are often not heard. I think it is great that JMP are working with other agencies towards creating their digital app which will be safe, confidential and easy to use.
“At the time of inspection, the young people’s involvement in its development was great to see and it was having a positive effect on their confidence and self-worth, not to mention their IT skills.”