Building a Directory of Services for refugees and migrants in the UK

Discover the open-source service directory developed by refugees and asylum seekers for refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, along with the brilliant coders behind the project.

Central to re-framing the narrative surrounding displaced people and refugees is moving the focus onto the many and varied skills they bring to the table. Coding in particular is a talent that employers cry out for, with demand far outstripping supply in most industries.

So when refugees got the chance to develop this vital skill at Code Your Future, they decided to make life easier for those helping them integrate with their new homes.

Building a skill pool

Code Your Future are a non-profit working to help refugees develop tech skills. They’ve come up with a means of updating the way new arrivals find and access vital services, putting displaced people in charge of developing the answer to their own challenges.

The issue they saw among caseworkers at organisations providing services in London was a lack of a centralised skills database. Different organisations had their own directories, some were simply using spreadsheets or Google docs, and very rarely was that data up to date.

In partnership with Help Refugees, they set out to change this.

An open-source solution

The Directory of Services project is a user-centric unified database of services supporting refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in the UK. When one organisation updates a listing, the whole sector benefits from a current overview of the entire service ecosystem.

Coded by refugees themselves using a mix of secure platforms and frameworks, the database focuses on speed, functionality, and above all: scalability. There’s inbuilt scope for a huge array of service providers to be added as the user base grows.

This Directory of Services isn’t just a hugely promising idea with refugees at its heart. It’s one of those projects which, upon launch, can be of immediate value to those who need it most, as well as proving useful to native service providers. It’s a fruitful partnership just waiting to happen.

Of course, this growth is not without its challenges. Funding is an ever-present issue, but for those wishing to help out there are all sorts of ways to contribute in this early testing phase.

The team are looking for experienced developers to mentor the refugees driving the project and make suggestions for improving the database. If that sounds like you, join the team on GitHub or come speak to the rep of the project at the Techfugees Summit this 25th and 26th of October in Paris and see directly with Jack and Louis how you can help.

The Directory of Services is a third-party project submitted for inclusion on the Techfugees blog. If you’re involved in a similar active tech project helping displaced people, we’d love to hear about it.

Submit your project to us via our online form.

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