Warm welcome from Helsinki municipality
Last month two of the team visited Finland after we had received a number of enquires about the work we are doing to increase participation for children using children’s services in the UK. We were delighted to meet with the heads of child protection for Helsinki municipality, who gave us a warm welcome and shared their knowledge and experiences. We learned that they are developing family centres to deliver services from universal through to targeted. Their enthusiasm to engage digitally with children and their families shone through.
Human centred design in Lapinjärvi
We went to see Lapinjärvi, a tiny municipality bursting with innovation and creativity. You can read about some of the great human centred design work they are doing here. Lapinjärvi is very remote and we stayed in their one and only hotel on a frozen lake and were the only guests – we planned to run only to find two foot of snow outside the door in the morning. We met with the mayor and the director of education and were kindly shown around their daycare centre where we could see the radical differences between their education provision and ours. We watched the very small children go off in the snow to their forest school. We are very excited to be working with Lapinjärvi to co-produce our Swedish and Finnish versions of the apps.
More time to spend with children
Our final day started with a visit to Malmi child protection social work team where we learned that some of the challenges faced by the social workers are very similar to those in the UK. We started the meeting by having some delicious Karelian Pie, a traditional Finnish delicacy. Like social workers everywhere, the team told us they want to have more time to spend with children and not have so much paperwork. They were delighted to find that our apps could help them do just that. (See a past blog post on exactly this topic). The social workers expressed excitement that there was finally a digital solution that could help them with their practice in engaging with children and young people who were in the child protection process.
We have plans to return to Finland very soon, especially now that spring appears to have arrived!
Authored by Natalie Ward and Jill Thorburn