Using digital to solve migrant youth issues

Refugee Youth setting the tempo for Undoc Camp

Last weekend I had the pleasure of taking part in Undoc Camp, looking at ways in which digital can help solve problems faced by undocumented migrant youths.

The event was organised by On Road Media, who expertly brought together people from the legal, digital and migrant sectors and, crucially, young migrants who have experienced first hand the issues we were addressing. We were divided into teams, with each team given an issue to work on.

The camp has been written about in more detail here, so for this post I just want to offer a few of the observations and learnings I took away with me.

  1. Recognise the limitations of digital as well as its potential. What became clear from listening to those experiencing the issues as well as the legal professionals, was that it would be dangerous to try to recreate the relationship between solicitors and migrants. Digital can’t replace the complexities of human communication, but we can use digital to facilitate it.
  2. Use what’s there – don’t reinvent the wheel. This was one of many great pieces of advice from Carrie Bishop, who spoke to the attendees on Friday evening. Some great ideas emerged the following day, showcasing a considered balance of services already out there and adding any functionality that customised the experience for this particular audience (e.g. the Migrant Map idea). And not a ‘portal’ in sight!
  3. The importance of lightness. Something that Adil Abrar mentioned during his inspiring talk – heavy subjects don’t have to have all the fun removed. His words must have resonated as the groups that showed designs as part of their pitch all reflected this message – focussing the tone on the audience rather than the difficulties they were facing. Within my group, we had a lot of  fun and good humour which really helped bring out great contributions from everyone. And being lucky enough to win the main £5k prize from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, I’m sure we will be bringing Adil’s advice to our design approach now that we can actually take our idea to the next stage.
  4. Change happens when we are all motivated by a common cause. No matter what people’s backgrounds and skills, when we are all bound by the same driving force we can work together and create something new. In this case, it was to help young people who face appalling problems through no fault of their own, and who need a better system to help them live better, safer lives.
  5. We can do this. We have the will power, we have the skills, and with events like Undoc Camp we have evidence we can really do it.

Digital producer, agile practitioner, scrum master. Pursuing sustainable democracy and social change.

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