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Co-production with Nottingham's Care Experienced Young People

Published: 15/09/2023

Author: Jordana Russell

Why these sessions are so successful and how we involve the young people in equal partnership

At focusgov we create digital solutions that support our local authority clients in adhering to legislation. The Care Leavers App helps councils to become the best corporate parents they can be to their care experienced young people.
This, however, is far from a box-ticking exercise. It is a goal driven by passion from all parties involved. We want to get this right to equip young people with the information and guidance they need to transition smoothly in to independence. As a result it will improve outcomes and we will have once again successfully provided a service and product our clients can depend on.

The success of the Care Leavers App can be attributed to many factors, one of these being the co-production sessions I hold with the young people themselves. 
I recently met with young care leavers of Nottingham who are excited to have begun their journey towards having their very own app.
All groups are different and wonderful in their own way. This ‘bunch’ was strong-minded, forthcoming and enthusiastic. It made for a great session!

Our co-production sessions involve the young people in equal partnership. They make participation and consultation fun and engaging. We talk colours, fonts, imagery, app functionality and more. They can choose their own app name and even create their own logo. There is usually a lot of excitement around this but never any pressure to do so. We are more than happy to come up with a logo based on their thoughts and feelings around the app name they decide on. Focusgov acknowledges that people with ‘lived experience’ are often best placed to advise on what support and services will impact their lives positively and make a difference. Done well, co-production helps to ground discussions in reality, and to maintain a person-centred perspective. We hold these sessions before commencing any design so the young people are involved at the earliest stages of design, development and evaluation.

These sessions have  proved to be a crucial stage in the design process. They encourage engagement, build a sense of ownership and the young people can feel pride in their achievement when they see their app launch live in the app store. Often it is represented by their own artwork too! 

Nottingham council’s care experienced young people certainly know what they want, and with plenty of first hand research in our back pockets, we can make sure that’s exactly what they get.