Helping vulnerable adults off the streets

  • Case Finding new ways for a charity to support non-UK nationals sleeping rough on London’s streets
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  • Client St Mungo’s
  • Industry Nonprofit
  • Capabilities Design Research
    Service Design
Designit St Mungo Hero

Routes Home is a service commissioned by the Greater London Authority and run by St Mungo’s. Routes Home helps non-UK nationals who are sleeping rough in London and need specialist advice and support to resolve their homelessness. Routes Home asked Designit for help understanding and improving the complex process of connecting their clients with services and benefits, and rebuilding their lives.

It felt good that for once somebody wanted to talk to me and listen. It felt different to the other times when some people were telling me things instead of talking to me. Routes Home client


Finding a permanent and safe place to live can be a complicated and lengthy process, involving many different organizations and people across the globe, from health and social services, to other charities, and family members. Routes Home had never fully mapped out the extent of their service’s role in a person’s journey, and needed a better overview of the process – and wanted a deeper understanding from both the Routes Home team and their clients’ point of view. Through shadowing and interviews with both staff and clients, we helped Routes Home map the whole journey an individual might take. By defining actors, touchpoints, painpoints and feelings for each step, we uncovered three key challenges and opportunities for improvement.


Some clients felt a ‘shock’ to the system after voluntarily returning to their home countries and struggled with a number of day-to-day activities, such as paying bills. Pre-paid postcards could help clients stay in contact and receive support throughout the transition. We also suggested the team create an online database to quickly check a client’s rights and benefits in their home country or the UK, without having to wait on slower third parties. Lastly, the team wanted to help clients be involved more fully with the process of exploring their options and identifying the best route off the street. A deck of cards could break down the complex process of finding a safe and permanent place to live, and facilitate conversations between clients and Routes Home staff.

Capturing the complex process and turning it into a fantastic visual aid, the journey map, was invaluable for understanding the full ecosystem – and from there improving it. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with Designit to bring the facilitation cards to life Darek Karwacki, Routes Home Manager


The three concepts were presented at an international conference on homelessness as best-practice examples of user-friendly and high-impact tools. St Mungo’s has selected the facilitation cards to use across their services, and throughout the UK, and is securing funding to bring the concept to life. 

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