Mind Of My Own: Safeguarding Vulnerable Children In Lockdown
Mind Of My Own offers apps to help children get their voices heard and participate in decisions made about their lives by professionals.
During social distancing and lockdown the apps have been a vital communication tool for young people between themselves and their workers, such as teachers or social care workers, helping to enable safeguarding from a distance, especially whilst they may not be being seen by other professionals and services.
Jill Thorburn, Director at Mind Of My Own, said there have been two elements of the apps which have been especially useful. These are The Safety Link, which allows a child to simply press an icon within the app to say they feel unsafe or unhappy, immediately alerting professionals of their situation, and a partnership with a company called Recite Me, which has made the One app available in more than 100 languages.
Local authorities are currently rating their children’s caseloads as red, amber and green, with red being those who most need safeguarding and green being those who are known to be safe and settled. An alert via The Safety Link would move a child straight from the green to red category.
There are three apps offered by Mind Of My Own: Mind Of My Own One helps young people communicate how they are feeling and what they need on any device, Mind Of My Own Express is designed for younger children and those with additional needs and Mind Of My Own Service is a comprehensive reporting portal which allows the organisation to track statements, audit performance and monitor thematic trends and target resources based on what users are collectively saying about the service.
Children like communicating via a channel they are used to, and it gives them a safe way to report abuse and get involved with their care or education planning. For the service, it allows the child’s voice to be clearly heard, gives better evidence of the child’s view, allows earlier flagging of issues, and reduces paperwork.
Jill Thorburn, Director at Mind Of My Own, previously worked in social care for more than 25 years. She said the company has been onboarding new clients during the lockdown who needed a solution quickly, including three Welsh authorities: Wrexham County Borough Council, Denbighshire County Council and Powys County Council. “Being able to communicate to these young people digitally, gather safeguarding information and have means to intervene early has never been more important and it is going to become increasingly important,” she said.
“As soon as school stopped, child protection referrals dropped by more than 50 per cent in some areas but child abuse has not dropped by 50 per cent, it will have only been heightened at this time for a number of young people and giving them a way of communicating is absolutely essential. We get feedback all the time from our community about children who are in abusive situations that the apps have helped.”
Thorburn and others in the company have always worked remotely and are now seeing local authorities come around to this way of working. For example, the company has been delivering training on how the apps work and delivering digital co-production workshops with children and young people through video conferencing.
“We have also been helping our customers with aspects such as information security which we have expertise in. We are aware that some practices that have been used in the lockdown could potentially leave local authorities very vulnerable in terms of data breaches, such as using social media platforms to speak to children. In the first instance those in a care capacity just had to be able to contact the children using their services, but now they should be reviewing their processes and practices and making sure that they are fully compliant with data protection legislation,” Thorburn added.
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