Cannes Lions

ProxyAddress

PROXYADDRESS, London / PROXYADDRESS / 2021

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Overview

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Overview

Background

The brief of this initiative was to create a system that would allow those in need of vital support services to bypass the bureaucratic obstacles that currently stand in their way. To do this across multiple sectors, a system had to be designed in such a way to work with existing processes, meet current legislative requirements, and create the most impact with minimal cost.

The objective was to create social equity for those most excluded in society – to ensure that everyone has access to a safety net in their time of need. The use and communication of the scheme called for a simple description that belied its underlying complexity. For the user, this allowed a rapid understanding and a straightforward expectation of the journey while using the service. For stakeholders, this allowed for ease of integration into existing systems – often with under-resourced teams in the context of covid-19.

Idea

ProxyAddress uses duplicated addresses to connect those facing homelessness with support.

An address is no longer just a location - it's now a de facto form of identification. This means that if a person becomes homeless they are immediately cut off from the basic services they need to recover: the ability to apply for jobs, receive benefits, open a bank account, receive healthcare, receive post: all are placed out of reach at the point they are needed most. Those who might have otherwise got back on their feet with a little early support are instead left to become entrenched in the situation and develop complex and care-intensive needs over time.

ProxyAddress provides a stable address throughout this period of instability. Using existing data of vacant properties, we create and provide a consistent 'proxy' address that can be used to access services regardless of location or how often the user moves.

Strategy

The strategy for this initiative centred on the need to make a system that is robust, trustworthy, secure, and simple. As such, years of direct engagement took place ahead of the service launch – working directly with hundreds of people facing homelessness, refugees, victims of domestic abuse, and stakeholders, policy makers, and regulators. The aim was to engage in a way that would create awareness and ownership of the service once available.

To allow the scheme to have wider reach, a short explainer video was created that explained the benefits of taking part quickly, plainly, and with a call to action to ensure that those requiring the service would be able to access it.

Those taking part were interviewed and the impacts tracked as the effects of having a ProxyAddress took place. Referral sources were also tracked across those made aware through the video, print materials, word-of-mouth, and charity partners.

Execution

In October 2020, ProxyAddress was made available to the public in London. All individuals approaching their local council for housing or homelessness assistance were offered the service. The call-to-action was placed across London in multiple languages using leaflets, posters, and digital screens in multiple locations including homeless charities, food banks, hospitals, and covid testing centres. This was supplemented by press coverage, the findings of a nationally-representative homelessness survey, website, video, and social media posts by partner organisations.

Within weeks of being made available, the service dozens of people had engaged with the service which, in turn, helped spread awareness through word-of-mouth through homeless services and hostels. Remote and socially-distanced methods were also employed.

This fundamental shift in how addresses are used across multiple sectors is now due to expand nationally with further interests from countries such as the USA, Canada, Spain, and China.