People Hub

JACK: I don't know what to do, I just wish I had a home.

DEBBIE: This must be so hard for you, but I'm here to help. If you're okay to answer some questions, I can fill out the form for you right now. It won't take long and we'll take regular breaks as this can be a difficult process. What do you think?

Need to help accessing services? Then come chat with a bot called Debbie. She'll be on Facebook, Whatsapp or even on a Smart Speaker on a wall of a library, or maybe a bus stop.

We're building Debbie, right now. She can't wait to meet you!

People Hub - getting difficult things done

People Hub are offering a new kind of jobs and training programme for people in Cornwall. One that is genuinely transformational for those involved, because, alongside the practicalities, People Hub prioritises an individual’s wellbeing and journey towards self-actualisation .

Whether homeless or recently unemployed, or if you’re looking to return to work, People Hub can help you make radical changes. What’s more, it’s a complete program, not just a referral service.

You'll work with either People Hub or one of their partners, Konnect or Smart-Matching, and be assigned a key worker. Konnect will be the first port-of-call for anyone with complex needs, People Hub will be there for those with less complex needs, and Smart-Matching will assist those people almost ready for employment. Together you'll discuss your situation, draw up an action plan and you’ll receive support until you're where you want to be.

Hi9 is proud to be the fourth partner and technical arm of such an important project. We use natural language and emotional immersion so that anyone can access services and share data without prior knowledge. Hi9 builds ‘Artificial Friends to affect Real Change’ and for People Hub we have created a chatbot named ‘Debbie’.

As People Hub’s ‘Receptionist’, Debbie will be chatting on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Google Assistant. She can provide information, open accounts, and even help fill out a housing application or benefit claim. Debbie has Artificial Emotional Intelligence. The ‘emotional’ aspect means she’s a bit of a character - she’s been through a lot of life challenges herself and enjoys nothing more than listening to others’ stories and sharing her own.

By alleviating barriers like form-filling and finding the right help, Debbie makes accessing services and training a much smoother process, particularly for the most economically isolated people across Cornwall. This is the first time AI has been used in this way.  

In taking the brunt of the admin, Debbie will speed things up for the key workers, so they can focus on the important work of helping their clients.

This programme comes at a time when over 14 million people in the UK are ‘economically inactive’ and 1.5 million people rely on Disability Living Allowance. In Cornwall alone, 66,800 people were economically inactive between July 2019 and June 2020, and of this, 20,400 people were experiencing long-term sickness.

And since the pandemic, all this got a lot worse.

In Cornwall there are significantly more people claiming unemployment benefits compared to pre-pandemic levels - 20,460 people as of July 2020, with just 8,870 in early March 2021.

Mental health disorders account for almost a quarter of ill health in the UK, and unsurprisingly this has also worsened substantially as a result of the pandemic, by 8.1% on average.

Maybe you or someone close to you identifies with one of these groups. If so, you likely know how hard it is to access the things you need.

If so, People Hub is here for you, and Debbie can’t wait to chat!

So what is 'self-actualisation'?

The term ‘self-actualisation’ comes fromAbraham Maslow's 'Hierarchy of Needs', an idea he set out in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Human Motivation".

The theory states that there are five levels of needs that a person has:

Every person first needs to ensure their basic survival requirements are being met, before it's possible to experience love and belonging. After that, you move onto developing self-esteem and finally reaching self-actualisation.

Whilst most of us may never become fully 'self-actualised', the ability and freedom to work towards this goal is only possible if the four subsequent needs are being met. That's where People Hub comes in. We help meet your needs so you can journey towards "becoming the most that one can be."

Here's some more about the amazing partners in the project:

People Hub

People Hub is based in a Call Centre. Their 'connectors' can signpost you places, give you information and phone numbers, and if you are considered 'non voluntary economically inactive' you can sign up to the programme. It's a mentoring programme which, through 1-to-1s and group sessions, aims to help you rebuild your life.


The Konnect mentor programme has a drop-in centre and is more deeply client-focused, potentially involving third parties such as social workers, bail officers, and mental health professionals. This programme works intensively to help reframe your life so that you can get what you need, whether that's finding the right healthcare, applying to further education, starting an apprenticeship, a career-change or becoming self-employed.


Smart-Matching Cornwall is a unique programme of tailored advice and support to help you with your job search. It is unlike any other Job Coaching Programme in that it focuses on you – your skills, strengths and passions and the type of roles that will match your lifestyle. It has a great relationship with some big employers, it's like a high-level recruitment company, but intensive and free.


Hi9 asks two questions. Why hasn't everyone prospered from the technological revolution? And why do we train people to use technology, instead of designing technology that needs no training? In our efforts to answer these questions, we have tried to reduce the complexity of the problem by focusing on conversation, because this is how humans have always shared information and accessed knowledge. By encouraging conversational interactions, rather than training people to use services, we create services that need no training.