Digital innovation for young people in care

Our Consortium

In 2014 our consortium was awarded funding from The Department of Education to deliver a project that creatively explores how technology can help young people in care. Here is a little bit more about us...
Go to Snook


Snook are an award winning Service Design agency who specialise in customer experience & service design. We design innovative brands: building digital products & full blended social marketing campaigns. Our process is underpinned by co-creating solutions & concepts with the public. We lay a strong emphasis on ethnographic research to understand user behaviour & the context in which we are designing for.

Go to Affective State

Affective State

Affective State is a company that provides human sciences research, development and consultancy. We aim to understand those factors that affect our ability to process information, make good decisions, and interact with our environment and technology. Central to achieving this is an understanding of both the cognitive and affective state of individuals, in our customers’ applied contexts. We design elegant human centric solutions to interpret, support and influence human behaviour.

Go to University of Portsmouth

University of Portsmouth

University of Portsmouth is one of the top modern universities in the UK. It\’s school of Creative Technologies is internationally recognised for research and innovation in interactive technology for health and well-being. With state-of-the-art facilities in motion capture, games technology and virtual reality, they are uniquely positioned to create technology solutions to address socio-cultural challenges.

Go to University of Kent Centre for Child Protection

University of Kent Centre for Child Protection

The Centre for Child Protection was launched in October 2012 at the University of Kent – one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities. Unique to the sector, it combines contemporary research with an online, multi-professional MA and cutting-edge child protection simulations, known as serious games, for use in Continuing Professional Development or CPD for professionals working to safeguard and protect children.

About the project

The project will explore how technology can support young people in care to stay safe; recognise and manage their emotions and behaviour; and communicate more effectively with practitioners.

During our work we will be in regular consultation with young people, working side by side to design a service that works for them. We will be engaging both young people and practitioners in this process via the use of creative and interactive codesign methods. The project will explore six key themes with a view to understanding what these themes mean to young people in care and how technology can help support them in these areas: communication, companionship, advocacy, coaching, supervision, capturing (thoughts & emotions).

The initial stage of Codesigning Care will run until March 2016. During this time we will be implementing an internationally recognised codesign approach called The Double Diamond which puts users at the heart of the design process.

The project will journey through 4 phases and the corresponding dials show our progress through each phase.

  • The first phase of the project will work with young people to explore the 6 themes, understand their challenges and needs and identify key ideas for exploration moving forward.

  • The second phase of the project will focus on the codesign of low fidelity of mock-ups with the young people. We will build on the ideas identified in phase one and work to refine these ideas and bring them to life visually.

  • The third phase of the project will follow a period of technical development. Working with the young people we will test and refine the technology until we reach limited function prototypes.

  • The final phase of the project will be about further prototyping and refinement to reach the point where we have a working prototype and a demonstration video.


Wendy Powell

Interactive Technology Co-ordinator
Wendy has a degree in chiropractic and in computer science, and a PhD in Creative Technologies. For the last 10 years she has been researching and developing virtual reality and interactive technology for health and well-being. She is passionate about using the potential of modern technology to improve quality of life, and takes a cross-disciplinary approach to create innovative solutions to support the complex needs of a wide range of end-users.

Dr Janes Reeves

Project Manager
Dr Jane Reeves has degrees in in Child Protection and Simulation Development. She is Co-Director of the Centre for Child Protection (CPP). A qualified social worker, Jane completed her MPhil. and PhD. analysing young people in or on the cusp of the care system who were young parents. She has conducted many research projects with young people in care. Since becoming Co-Director of CCP she has worked in partnership with statutory and third sector agencies and led and co-written several immersive simulations.

Valerie Carr

Senior Service Designer
Valerie is a service designer who focuses on co-designing health and social care services, improving both the experience of the citizen and the efficiency and effectiveness of the service delivery. She has a PhD in Healthcare Service Design and is motivated by creatively addressing the challenges associated with engaging patients and citizens in co-producing public services. In the past she has worked on projects for Scottish Government, NHS24, various health boards.

Blair Dickson

Sensory Interface Designer
Blair has over 20 years of experience in developing and demonstrating innovative approaches to optimising human mental performance and experience. From a background in physiological monitoring, he focused on an Applied Neuroscience approach to understand the factors that influence our behaviour, often by understanding the interactions between the local sensory environment and our cognitive and affective (emotional) states. Blair believes in an approach that involves building and testing prototypes with the end user throughout the design process.

Emma Parnell

Service Designer
Emma is a service designer with a background in visual design. Whilst living in New Zealand she used co-design methods to help develop service offerings in libraries and to help redesign visitor experiences for the Department of Conservation. She is passionate about using her skills to makes people’s lives easier, better or just a little more exciting.

David Shemmings

Professor of Child Protection Research
Prior to moving to Kent in 2007 David worked in social services for 14 years. In 1988 David joined the University of East Anglia where he spent 17 years and completed his PhD. David is the author of over 60 articles, books and chapters on relationally-based social work theory, research and practice. David co-directs, with his partner Yvonne, the Attachment and Relationship-based Practice training in over 40 child protection organisations across the UK and Europe. Finally, he is co-Director, with Dr Jane Reeves, of the online Centre for Child Protection at the University of Kent. David was awarded an OBE for Services to Child Protection in the June 2014 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Kaye Heyes

Project Manager


With any technological developments, there will be questions asked along the way. We will do our best to capture this process during the journey in this space. Please email us with any questions you have


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