HSO Blog: The government Homes for Ukraine conundrum

CCN Blogs | 18 July 2022

Unfortunately for the government, when it comes to challenges like the rehoming of Ukrainian refugees, there is no magic wand to wave to provide a ready-made solution to the challenge of placement. In the end, someone somewhere will need to build a solution. In the case of Ukrainian refugees, the government created Foundry.

Within Foundry resides data on the people seeking refuge. It’s a central place to log requests and begin the process of rehoming. Spun up quickly, Foundry contains a large amount of free text. Here you have people applying where English is not their first language. The result is inconsistent – and not easy to handle – data, that needs regular cleaning.

Take identifying people for instance. In the UK, we take first name and surname for granted. In Ukraine, often a surname is a first name, and the first name is a surname. So the basics of identifying someone becomes harder.

Without the numbers of staff needed to guide applicants through the process, local authorities must manage a complex data set. One where checking and placement is hard to manage in a single cohesive system. It needed streamlining.

Making Ukrainian refugee placement quick, simple, and safe.

Foundry is only a database. The first part of the settlement process. It is down to each local authority to manage the checking and placement process beyond initial data extraction.

But with each local authority applying their own method of delivering on the same need, there is potential for duplication. The urgency of the situation necessitates the need for rapid response. This is easier if efforts are not in silo. And so the message to local authorities is: don’t go it alone.

For example, Microsoft, working together with local government experts HSO, collaborated with local authorities to detail the challenge of placement management, and identify common themes and faults in the process. Faults such as the inability to join records and the relationships between families and sponsors, and also to manage the approval and checking process in a single place.

From this, came Homes for Ukraine: Click to Place. A freely downloadable application that streamlines the checking and monitoring process of Ukrainian refugees. This is just one example.

What is clear is that any solution must be quick to deploy, easy to manage, centrally located, connected to Foundry, and flexible enough to mould rapidly to changing requirements.

Changing Local Government norms

Before the pandemic, putting new operation critical systems in place – like Click to Place – fast, would be inconceivable. But tools like Power Apps have made it easier. And more cost effective.

Power Apps has joined together the world of IT and business. Making the development of rich custom solutions to remove the burden of managing essential services, simpler, whilst reducing pressure on finding the right skills to do so. And by making solutions such as Homes for Ukraine click to place easily accessible, helping Ukrainian families find refuge is now easier.

Andy Venter, Head of Public Sector


For more information on Homes for Ukraine: Click to place visit: www.hso.com/en-gb/homes-for-ukraine-click-to-place