Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (CARAS) | Developing an integrated appointments system to help support refugees and asylum seekers during Covid-19



Why the work is being done

To develop an integrated appointments/booking system and activity calendar that informs CARAS beneficiaries (i.e. refugees and asylum seekers) of upcoming activities, sends reminders and nudges, as well as allows people to register to events.

The prototype we are working towards is an online calendar with filter functionality, integrated with our current Outlook calendar, with a registration and reminder system for regular or one-off activities.

The system will allow for: 
- Registration for drop-in or invite-only activities 
- A way for users to update their activity and comms preferences
- Comms with beneficiaries and support networks that will welcome them to the organisation as well as inform and remind them of upcoming activities or timetable changes

While off-the-shelf registration and comms systems exist, these will require tech development for integration with our website and existing DMS.

This programme is part of the Catalyst and The National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response funding initiative; a partnership between The National Lottery Community Fund and CAST, supported by the Catalyst network.

Problem to solve

Keeping CARAS beneficiaries and their support networks informed and engaged with the services and activities available to them during Covid-19. 
Previously, when services were all face-to-face, a lot of this information sharing was achieved by word of mouth. However now that digital services are accessed remotely, staff spend considerably more time enabling beneficiaries to access our offer. 
We have also identified that the current system we have leaves some beneficiaries without the essential information they need to participate in services and activities.

Who are the users and what do they need to do

We’ve identified three key user groups:
User group 1 - our beneficiaries:
“As someone seeking asylum / with refugee status 
When I want to access a service at CARAS 
I need to know what my choices are 
So that I can engage in the right activities for me.”

User group 2- the support network around our young beneficiaries, which typically includes their social worker and either foster carer or key worker. 
 “As a supporter of a young person seeking asylum 
When the young person wants to access services 
I need to know what’s happening when 
So that I can support them to attend.”
User group 3 - staff who provide information to the first two user groups. Primarily this will be project staff running activities
 “As a staff member at CARAS 
When I want to engage beneficiaries in services of their choice 
I need an efficient way of informing them and their support network of what’s going on 
So that I can enable them to attend.”

  • An integrated appointments/booking system and activity calendar for participants to see and select available activities, sign up and receive automated reminders. 
  • Increased attendance within beneficiary groups and regularity of attendance
  • Beneficiary autonomy over access to information and decisions
  • Reduced staff time to update timetables and remind participants, and to know who will be attending
  • Support networks are better informed about activities and their ward’s interests and attendance and therefore are better able to support them to attend

Key project resources