We have a long history in working in partnership with Local Authorities (over five years since our first implementation), where we have a proven track record of helping young people say what they need to say, to whom they want to say it. But we knew from the start this was never going to be enough for us – our mission is to bring Mind Of My Own to all the children and young people who need it.
Young people in residential care
In fact, some of the ones who most need Mind Of My Own have other workers they have much more contact with than their statutory social workers. I’m talking about young people in residential care. We know that residential homes are sometimes (wrongfully in our opinion) seen as the last resort for young people who have experienced placement breakdowns in foster care. Rather than seeing this as a challenge that’s too hard for us to take on, we think this means that young people in residential care are among those we should work the hardest to provide access to Mind Of My Own apps to help them have a strong voice. This is especially the case for those placed far from their home authority. That’s why we were so pleased when Action for Children joined us and rolled out our apps in their fostering and residential services across the UK (read more here).
If you’ve been following our journey, you will know that we have done a huge piece of work over the past year to internationalise our code and translate the apps to Welsh, so we were so pleased when an Action for Children residential home in Wales was the first to offer Mind Of My Own to a young person placed with them – knowing we are one step closer to giving all young people across the world the chance to express themselves on their own terms, in their native language, is a true delight.
There are unique challenges faced in residential homes that Mind Of My Own can help with. Working so closely with a young person means you have a special bond, which can sometimes seem to muddy the waters for other professionals. One manager of a home we were working with complained that she sometimes felt pulled in two directions, especially when Local Authority wanted to move one of her young people to a placement closer to home. Since they were so close, the young person asked her to help write a letter to the Local Authority on why they didn’t want to be moved. However, the Local Authority was worried that the manager had influenced the young person to say it.
I’m just trying to help him because he’s asked me to – he knows I’ve got the knowledge on how to put things so they have to listen to him. But when they read it they told me it sounds like it was me who wrote it, and they can’t trust it’s his own words! Having Mind Of My Own has been invaluable because they know it’s his views, in his words, and it’s helped the young person be able to stay here where he feels settled.
Mind Of My Own apps have been used effectively not only to sort problems, but to build relationships. I want to finish with one of my favourite stories from Nicola Higham, strategic lead of a residential home we work with – which has received an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating for all ten years it has been running! We could not be prouder to be partnered with such a great residential home.
We’ve got one girl who is 16 and has no learning disabilities, but she still wanted to use Express because it was so fun. When she put down her favourite foods, she didn’t pick one of the options in the app, she wrote down “Michael’s cooked breakfast”. Now I know that Michael only comes in on Saturdays and all the young people really like him, and when we saw this my staff were able to extrapolate from what she had said to realise that for her, food is a form of care, and she’s not only talking about her favourite food but also telling us about her trust in Michael. It really helped us build a stronger relationship with her and when she went missing a few weeks later we sent her pictures of all her favourite foods to tell her that we missed her and wanted her to come back.
Amanda Ottosson, business development lead