Action for Children introduces innovative digital app to support children in care

Posted by / Monday 15 April 2019 /
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Leading UK children’s charity invests in pioneering technology to help UK children in the care system to express their feelings

Hundreds of looked after children supported by Action for Children are to be given access to unique app technology from Mind of My Own which encourages them to share worries and concerns, directly with their social workers.

Action for Children is the first UK-wide charity to invest in the pioneering technology which has been co-designed with children and young people.

The Mind of My Own apps use child-focused language and design to encourage young people to share their thoughts from a tablet or phone screen. The technology is a world-first as it enables children to share information confidentially, directly to their social workers about how safe and how happy they are feeling so they can assess their wellbeing more regularly.

Following a successful pilot in Bolton Children’s Rights Services last year, Action for Children is now rolling out the use of Mind of My Own to fostering services UK-wide as well as select residential services in Wales. It is estimated that up to 1000 children and 200 Action for Children workers will be using the apps by the end of the year.

Action for Children’s National Director, John Egan said:

“We’re constantly seeking to find new ways to support and communicate with vulnerable children and young people, especially those who we look after. Tech can get a bad press however, we’ve found that Mind of My Own provides safe and effective ways for children in care to powerfully use their voice and share experiences with our staff and others who work with them outside formal meetings.

“Feedback so far has been hugely positive and our staff are finding the communication invaluable. Children who have sometimes struggled to discuss difficult issues are now using the app to start a conversation. The apps will complement, not replace, our face-to-face work.

“At Action for Children, we hope to use the Mind of My Own data to track themes and issues which will help us develop and adapt our services to the needs of the children and young people who need us most.”

Evidence from the Action for Children pilot has shown that children and young people are using the app as an alternative way to vocalise problems and acknowledge good things in their life to celebrate.

A young person who is currently using the Mind of My Own app, says: “It’s brilliant as it helps you say the things that you want to say without being afraid. I can tell people what I want and when, so it helps them to understand my point view and what’s really going on in my life.”

Cara Holden, Mind of My Own App Development Worker at Action for Children, adds: “Every time a professional makes a decision about one of the children or young people, they need to be sure they’ve considered and evidenced their views.  Mind of My Own makes this process quicker and easier. Young people tell us they like using it- it doesn’t require any face-to-face ‘difficult’ conversations and is something they can use regularly.”

Speaking about the new partnership, Mind of My Own director Jill Thorburn, says:

“It’s fantastic to be working with such an established and forward-thinking organisation as Action for Children to help the children and young people they support. We’re driven by our vision of ensuring all children’s voices are heard. Staff can’t always be there 24/7, but Mind of My Own can. Our apps enable children and young people to say what they want, when they want to and in a way that suits them, giving their workers rich, authentic information to work with.”

Mind of My Own products are safe, private and secure and have ISO27001 certification for their high level of information security.

ENDS

Contacts

Mind of My Own media contact: Iris Steen at [email protected], tel 07792 636761

Action for Children media contact: Arron Williamson – 07718 224125 [email protected] Out of hours: 07802 806 679 / [email protected]

We can provide access to interviewees including Mind of My Own directors and Action for Children staff, short videos, photographs and branding to support stories.

View videos about Mind of My Own at www.mindofmyown.org.uk

Notes to editors:

About Mind of My Own

  • Mind of My Own helps children and young people using services to improve their lives by ensuring each and every one is heard. Our Apps have been co-produced with children and young people to ensure it is understood by them and activates their participation. It has rapidly expanded since launching in 2015, and has been used in England, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Jersey and Scotland.
  • Mind of My Own apps provide a unique combination of easy to access tools for children and young people, together with secure, central data analysis for the organisation using the service.
  • Mind of My Own awards include: Tech4Good Community Impact Award 2018, Scotland IS Best Public Sector Product 2018, Children and Young People Now Awards 2017 and The Observer's New RadicalsAward for Social Innovation 2016.

Action for Children is using two Mind of My Own apps:

One App

  • One app helps young people communicate their views in a way that suits them. Young people create their own account on One app, which can be used on any device. This means that young people can use One app to say how they are feeling and what they need, in a way that suits
  • One app enables young people to be more actively involved in their lives and is an accessible and empowering way to tell their workers about things that are important to them. This helps workers understand young people better, saves them time and can be used to better evidence young people’s views in their

Express

  • All children should have their voices heard. This is especially the case for those with additional needs.
  • Often labelled ‘hard to reach’ they are actually easiest to overlook. Express is an app that improves direct work practice and makes it easier for younger children and those with a learning disability to express their views, wishes and feelings.
  • Express is innovative, accessible and user-friendly. Designed to be used with a worker, it uses minimal text, expressive pictures and affirming sounds to help children communicate their views and preferences in a fun way.

For more information visit www.mindofmyown.org.uk

HOW ACTION FOR CHILDREN WORKS: Action for Children helps disadvantaged children across the UK through intervening early to stop neglect and abuse, fostering and adoption, supporting disabled children, and by campaigning tirelessly to make life better for children and families. With over 550 services the charity improves the lives of more than 300,000 children, teenagers, parents and carers every year. actionforchildren.org.uk