Changing Futures


Over the past 4 months Blackburn with Darwen Council has been leading on the digital design for the Lancashire Changing Futures Programme. This programme stretches over the North West which is split into 4 localities:

  • East (Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley, Pendle, Rossendale, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley);
  • North (Lancaster and Morecambe);
  • Central and West (West Lancashire, Preston, Chorley and South Ribble);
  • Fylde Coast (Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre)

The aim for the programme is to help those who suffer from multiple disadvantages such as alcohol abuse, homelessness, mental health, domestic abuse and involvement with Criminal Justice Service.

Initial discussions began in January and focused on using SharePoint as the solution for Changing Futures. As time went on and we began to explore SharePoint, it was clear it was going to be too resource intensive and we wouldn’t hit the timeframes we were aiming for!

As a team we decided to explore using the Digital Customer Portal to receive and process the referrals. Firstly we had to ensure that we could get 3rd party access to allow Changing Futures staff to receive and process the referrals for their own locality. Once this was agreed we started to create the digital process using an agile approach, working in sprints to complete key tasks.

In the coming weeks the team designed and developed the following;

  • A digital referral form
  • Workflow for triage
  • Digital team assessment processes
  • Full support model and plan

We worked in collaboration with the main stakeholders to design and test all elements which were then demoed to the Lancashire’s Changing Futures Programme Board and we received great feedback.

In February we were ready for some user feedback and a number of tablet devices were handed out to users so we could gain important information on the processes that we had designed from those that were going to use it day in day out. Small changes were made to the referral form and in March the roll out of over 30 more tablets took place with the help of the BwD IT Service Desk. All users that came into the office to collect their tablets were given on-site face to face training as well as user guides to refer back to if needed.

The new referral process for Changing Futures Lancashire was launched on 7th April with information on how to make a referral being shared far and wide to over 600 partners of the programme including the police, fire and rescue and alcohol and drug services from all around the North West. This marked the beginning of the handover period for the project, to capture feedback and any teething problems that may occur, team manages and admins of each locality were invited to daily stand ups over the next 2 weeks and were encouraged to ask any questions they had around their new way of working to help us develop what had already been delivered.

Changing Futures entered business as usual mode at the end of April with a tailor made support model in place for both the BwD IT Service Desk and DCP, detailing how to raise issues, time frames for when they will be resolved and how to request any development work that may be needed in the future. To date over 240 referrals have been made into the programme and people’s lives are already starting to be improved as a result!

By Lloyd Foster on 30th Jun 2022
Lloyd Foster is an Assistant Service Designer working at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council.