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App co-production with Ealing Council's care experienced young people

Published: 17/01/2023

Author: Jordana Russell

What a way to kick off our 2023 engagement sessions! Another app co-production success.

What a way to kick off our 2023 engagement sessions! Another app co-production success, this time with enthusiastic members of Ealing council and a group of their admirable care experienced young people. Like many local authorities who care greatly for their looked-after children and care leavers, Ealing have trusted us to create an app designed to support these amazing individuals as they move towards and navigate adulthood and independent living.

The focusgov Care Leavers App provides 24/7 access to useful information and advice as well as local events and activities and helpful organisations. We work directly with the young people as the app is built on the principle that those who are affected by a service are the ones best placed to help design it.

One passionate participant expressed a wish to be able to communicate with a person not a bot. Not a problem, that’s what our Digital Community Platform is for. With that comes secure messaging which allows Local Authorities and their young people to stay in touch in a safe, secure way using real-time messaging. It also provides ‘Social-media’ styled posting, so young people can ask questions and share thoughts. Publication of bespoke and unlimited digital surveys is another useful option.

Another keen participant hoped it would be a calming space and in turn gave me enough insight to know what must happen with the design to make it such. This project will also include a website version of the app so users are not limited by their device access. Everyone is entitled to an equal experience and we cannot assume all are in possession of a mobile phone.

The care experienced young people are placed at the heart of design so the end product is one they can feel proud of. The Ealing team, their young people and I, all had a great time collaborating! We talked and laughed and shared ideas around colours, imagery, apps they like, icons they hate and they fascinated me with the reasons behind their decisions. I was seriously impressed with the app name they came up with too. It’s taking all I have to keep quiet about that one. What I will say though is the meaning behind their app icon suggestion is beautiful and the image that supports this blog is not only representative of the Ealing council logo but is a subtle nod to that. I’m giving nothing more away, you’ll just have to watch this space for the app launch!

Knowing the app is a result of their ideas being valued and their voice being heard is beyond encouraging and creates a strong sense of ownership. In turn they are more inclined to consider the app when seeking support and realising they can trust in it to provide just that.

The care leavers app encompasses the corporate parenting principles and is the epitome of “Tech for good”. In providing this app, Ealing are acting as any good parent would do by supporting, encouraging and guiding their children to lead healthy, rounded and fulfilled lives and we are honoured to contribute to that.