While media and political debates have shifted, people are still fleeing the war in Ukraine and some of those people have registered with Reset to be matched with UK sponsors. Core to our approach has been relational matching; by this we mean the process of talking to both refugees and sponsors to pair people with similar interests. While we know relational matching works, it is taking too long, and the need is urgent.
Over the last few weeks, we have been taking all our learning from our matching pilot to think through how we can respond to the need for quicker matching. To increase the speed of matching we have taken the decision to move towards a digital solution which will enable us to pair people based on their preferences and key requirements. Working with our partners at Social Finance - a non-profit consulting group that helps communities and partner organisations to find better ways of tackling social problems in the UK and globally - we have created a new, secure digital platform which will form the basis of our new approach. If you have already filled in one of our forms and attended an online seminar, don’t worry, your details have been migrated across, though we might need you to provide a little more information!
The new process requires more information from sponsors, specifically around location, how many people you can host and household essentials – for example whether someone has an allergy. Based on feedback from those attending our webinars, we know that once you have heard more from us, sponsors often wish to make a different offer of accommodation to avoid overcrowding situations. Our new process allows sponsors to edit their own profiles, and to share when they are available for matches.
Location is a key factor for refugees, so we’re asking people to share more about their community; there is a perception from the refugees we speak to that the UK is London, so it’s important to share what your area offers.
Once the questions have been answered, we then run a query on our database to find at least two suitable, potential sponsors which will be offered to refugees. Refugees will be able to see the sponsor profiles who meet their criteria, but not the contact information of the sponsor. Sponsors will need to accept the match prior to any connection being made. Sponsors will not be able to view details of other sponsors or refugees. You can find out more about how the process works here.
Refugee choice and agency
We believe that refugees should have some agency and choice around where they call home for the next few months. For this reason, we put refugees in the driving seat and enable them to choose who to be hosted by. We know that this might feel uncomfortable for potential sponsors, or if you have no matches, it might feel like your help is not needed and we are sorry about that, but ultimately, we think that it’s important that refugees can say no to being sponsored by someone.
Testing phase two
As I type this, we are testing the new system and inviting in more sponsors to our webinars and to set up their profiles in our matching system, if you’re waiting to hear back from us, please do bear with us as we send out invitations. Despite our best efforts, there may be some glitches along the way but are confident that once these are ironed out, we will be able to match even more refugees to UK sponsors.
We know that the matching process is taking time, not only for Reset but for other organisations too, and this can be frustrating for sponsors who want to help now. Like many others, our team is working as hard as they can to ensure they make the best matches they can, to help both sponsors and refugees.
I’ll be continuing to share our learnings from this stage of our matching service with you in my next post.