Wheatley Group – Future housing services

Workshop at the Scottish Refugee Council

Wheatley Group




Service Design


September 2016-November 2016


Marie Cheung
Anne Dhir
Ivelina Georgieva


Wheatley Group provides homes and services to over 200,000 people in 17 local authority areas across Central Scotland. They’re committed to supporting people and helping communities to thrive. With an increasing population, diverse both geographically and demographically, planning for the future is crucial to prepare services for the changing needs of customers.

I spent 8 weeks withh the team to research on people’s experiences to explore the current and future customers need from social housing and turn these insights into action to develop future housing services.


My main roles on the project was to conduct user research, design all the user journeys and product a film to highlight one of these user journeys.

We worked with the Wheatley Group project team to research, design and prepare the interviews and workshops very carefully to keep research sensitivity in mind. Contextual interviews and workshops were structured around a friendly conversation allowing safe space for sharing insights. We used tactile tools to help people tell their stories. These physical prototyping objects enabled us to focus on building what the future might look like.


Our youngest participant was 13 and our most senior one was 85. We chatted with over 65 people in Glasgow, Renfrewshire and Edinburgh, visiting their homes and community spaces. We collaborated with Scottish Refugee Council, Glasgow Housing Association, Castlemilk Youth Complex, Dunedin Canmore Housing Association and Glasgow Disability Alliance to speak to relevant people for this project.

Evolving the project brief
We always make sure that project outputs are not delivered just because they are outlined in the initial brief. We believe in providing deliverables which clients can actually use. We find that while personas are lively and easy to relate to, user journeys can be quite technical and not shared as widely as they could be within organisations. We wanted to break this barrier and explore ways to make user journeys more accessible. We suggested to bring one of these journeys to life through film and Wheatley Group played a key role as an innovator within the social housing sector.

Bringing stories to life – Reggie’s story
We started with Reggie’s story which represents the experiences of single male refugees frustrated with being homeless and the lack of representation. We hired an actor, developed a script, made a detailed storyboard – then, went out and about filming at different locations. It’s more than just a film – it’s a way of asking questions. Like any prototype, design or artefact, this short film is a way of asking questions. What would Reggie do if he had to use our service? How can we develop a better service for Reggie?

Wheatley Group is using the user journeys internally when talking about their services and products, making sure customers are ‘in the room’ when these discussions happen even though not physically there.

“The project has built capability in-house to develop customer journeys and personas, and is informing our new approach to allocating houses.”

– Lorna Wilson, Research and Development Manager

Project Deliverables

Customer's housing journeys

Customer's housing journeys

Bringing the user journey to life in film

© Marie Cheung