Building the Asylum Journey

Just over a year and a half ago I, somewhat sceptically, went along to my first hackday. Hackdays had never interested me before, writing code has always been more of a job than a hobby so the idea of spending my weekend trapped in a room with other developers wasn’t appealing. This one was a bit different though, organised by my then employer Yoomee, it was the Sheffield tech community’s response to the refugee crisis.

Going into it, I really wasn’t sure a hackday could actually produce something useful, but now, 5 hackdays and a lot of work later, I’m very pleased to say that the tool we built is being used by City of Sanctuary, Assist and other local organisations that work with asylum seekers and refugees in Sheffield.

The Asylum Journey, which started life as a giant Word document, is an online tool providing a central source of information about local services and resources for asylum seekers and refugees. The content is managed by a team of volunteers and employees at local organisations. Continued technical development and support is provided by a small team of volunteer developers.

You can see it in action at https://asylumjourney.org.uk/.

A project like this can only succeed thanks to the time and efforts of the people involved, so I’d like to thank:

Andy Mayer and Yoomee for getting it all started and running the first hackdays.

Jean Gladwin and Tina Ball who have been involved from the start on the expert / content side and have driven forward taking it from a prototype to a useful tool.

Richard Miller for leading on the backend development.

All the other developers and web types who’ve been involved (in no particular order): Martin Smith, Clara Jordan, Mohamed Said, Dan Sumption, Jonny Rippon, Nick Tsim, Chad Gowler, Katie Fenn, Laura Kishimoto, Daniel King & Glen Mailer (hopefully I’ve not missed anyone!).

Plus Union St for hosting the last two hackdays.

You can read more about how this all got started on the Yoomee blog.