Young people in Scotland use digital app to share 1,500 statements about their experiences of social care

September 17, 2019

Over 20 local authorities and charities meet in Glasgow on Wednesday 18 September to explore pioneering technology that is helping increasing numbers of Scottish children and young people in the social care system to express their feelings, report issues or concerns, and improve care.

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, and respond more quickly.

10 organisations in Scotland have already invested in the pioneering technology which has been co-designed with children and young people. Almost 1,200 staff are using the apps to support their work. Children as young as four are using the apps to help prepare for visits and meetings, tell someone they are struggling, share good news, or request their workers to sort a problem. The Express App, which is primarily image and emoji based, is specifically designed for very young children or those with literacy problems or additional support needs. The One App is more text based.

Speaking about the use of Mind Of My Own in Aberdeen City Council, Andrea McGill, Service Manager, Integrated Children and Family Services said:

“As a local authority we are currently finding better ways of involving our children and young people more directly in their care planning. We were aware that the paper-based system being used was underutilised, with the young people feeling it was not the best system for them. Mind Of My Own offers better ways to engage with our young people in care and with care experienced in real time and in a relevant way.”

 Children and young people are using the apps as an alternative way to vocalise problems and acknowledge good things in their life to celebrate.

A young person in Aberdeen who is currently using the app, said:

“Having the Mind Of My Own app has really helped because often when I have a problem, I need it fixed NOW but it can’t always be because my workers are busy or off, or it’s a weekend… So even if I’m having a tough day and feel like it can’t wait, I can rest easy knowing that my worker will see the report I sent via the app first thing in the morning or when they get to work and then it can start to be sorted. It also helps me because sometimes it’s hard for me to describe what’s happening or why I’m struggling… so writing it for someone to read makes it easier. The emojis help too because expressing how I’m feeling is something I find hard, I tend to hide it until I can’t cope anymore.”

The apps are relevant to a wide range of children’s organisations – including charities and young carers’ groups.

Scotland-wide charity Quarriers, is currently rolling out the apps across its services. Andy Williamson, Deputy Chief Executive and Service Director for Quarriers said:

“Following a successful pilot, Quarriers has committed to embedding Mind Of My Own within our children’s and young people’s services across Scotland.  We recognise the power of this digital application and the need for children to express themselves using a medium that they are familiar and comfortable with.  At Quarriers we are committed to supporting children and offering this choice enhances the possibilities and positive outcomes for them.  We look forward to the positive benefits it can bring.”

PKAVS which hosts a young carers club in Perth and Kinross is the first carers’ organisation in the UK to use the apps. Speaking about their experience, Katie Marshall, Young Carers Coordinator said:

“We have found that young carers who live in rural locations throughout Perth and Kinross have really benefited from using Mind Of My Own. They are regularly updating their key worker on their lives which has helped us to ensure that adequate support is available. It has allowed us to be more flexible with the support we offer and young carers feel they can contact staff anytime.”

Action for Children Scotland is also using the apps. Fiona Steel, Operational Director of Children’s Services at Action for Children, said:

“The voice of the child is central to everything we do at Action for Children in Scotland. From employing upwards of 80 former service users within our projects to having two young people on our Scotland Committee, we recognise the importance of having the views of children front and centre of our work. We also recognise that if we are giving children and young people a voice, we need to give them the tools to make it easier for them and that is where the Mind Of My Own app is so crucial.”

Speaking about the growth in usage, Mind Of My Own director Jill Thorburn, says:

“We are delighted with the rapid increase in the use of Mind Of My Own in Scotland. Twice as many young people’s statements about their views and feelings have been submitted this year already compared to 2018.  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.”

The apps are primarily used to support practice with individuals, but as more statements are submitted, anonymised data is also providing wider insights. Data obtained from 1,500 statements indicates that while 9 out of 10 young people said they felt positive about where they live, 7 per cent said they felt scared or unsafe. And older children aged over 17 were more likely to say that their health was not good (16 per cent, compared to 7 per cent of under 17s).

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

Both apps are based around scenarios such as sorting a problem and preparing for a meeting or review, and The One App has recently been updated to include three new sections on:

  • My Wellbeing which explores what makes them happy, how they feel about where they live, the things they worry about or that cause them concern
  • Return from Missing which enables young people who may have ran away from home, to discuss the reasons they went missing in the first place, any risks they may have faced while away, or any harm they or others may have experienced while they were missing
  • My Education which helps young people to express views about their education, and play an active part in their education planning and reviewing



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