Shelter service strategy + projects

As the first Service Designer for the leading housing & homelessness British charity, I’m advocating for Design Thinking within the organization, with a focus on improving the services we provide to people in urgent need of help with housing.

By acting as a ‘hands-on’ Service & UX Designer and actively engaging with senior management stakeholders, I’ve successfully contributed to Human Centred Design becoming a key element of Services’ division long term strategy.

Year & location

2017 : 2019 - London, Uk

Category of work

Service Design, Strategic Design, UX Design

Team composition

Service Designer, Product Owner, Lead UX Designer, Developer

Some things I’ve learned at Shelter (so far)

When I joined Shelter, there were few people around me who really had a clear idea of what a Service Designer is.
To familiarise myself with Shelter services and identify opportunities, I began conducting contextual user research. I learned how complex it is to engage with vulnerable people, from ‘recruiting’ to actually carring out research activities with somebody who is or will soon be homeless. Reading existing bibliography and reviewing in-depth analysis produced by our researchers proved useful.
That’s when I started mapping things.

By developing a system map at Shelter, I was able to ‘connect the dots’ and find areas for improvement accross different areas of the organisation.
Designing a user journey map helped to visualise what an ideal experience could look like for a person seeking advice from Shelter and communicate that idea quickly to get feedback.

As I started to implement digital products I saw there was a clear need to introduce Service Design principles to the longer term strategy, but there were some barriers to achieving this.

I learned that ‘starting small’ was the best approach and began to build relationships with key people across the organisation so that I could understand their needs better. Once we'd built trust my team was able to guide stakeholders along the design process whilst addressing things they cared about. That’s when they started to gain genuine interest in Service Design.

By leading a number of research and ideation workshops, I helped our team devising a service strategy and roadmap of products-services and interventions that would get Shelter closer to the ideal advice journey envisioned earlier.

As a team we then went on exploring these opportunities.
Some of the successful results we achieved include:


London, UK

Streamlining advice journeys

A unified point of access made it easier for people to contact Shelter and allowed us to run experiments aimed at decreasing pressure of our helpline.


London, UK

Improving our helpline to reach more people in urgent need

How we improved Shelter’s helpline to reach thousands more people in urgent need of housing & homelessness expertise.


London, UK

Reshaping our Local Advice Services offering

How we implemented a new way of looking for face-to-face Shelter advice in a local area and simplified things for our staff.

These outcomes have been recognized by senior management and they feel we are going in the right direction. Following these successes I was asked to ideate and facilitate a strategic session with senior stakeholders which contributed to Human Centred Design becoming a key element of the Services’ directorate long term plan

As the team expands, I’m still working towards helping the rest of the organization to adopt a genuinely Human Centred approach for any new service that needs to be designed.

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