Arthritis Care’s challenge is how to help and support young people to cope better with the pain and struggles of living with arthritis. Over the past 12 weeks, Arthritis Care has co-created and developed a prototype app with and for young people that has the potential to transform a young person’s experience living with arthritis. It has been an incredible experience and the hard work of a dedicated and committed team has resulted in the completion of a first iteration working prototype. The team has experienced first-hand the significant impact that digital technology integration can potentially have within a healthcare setting.
Through the TIR programme, the initial concept was refined and developed into a prototype app that allows young people to track their condition and produce reports about symptoms/side effects of their medication, sleep, activity, school, mood and more. In its current form, the app provides basic hints and tips that can empower the young person/user to take control of their arthritis and improve their quality of life. The interface has been co-designed with young people using the approach of messaging a friend to gather information rather than data input.
Cornfield Project’s challenge was how to maximise the potential of their evolving Cornfield Project – a transformational site set between the local communities of Ballysally & Millburn in Coleraine. This once disused and unloved area is now the Kew Gardens/Grow Wild flagship site for Northern Ireland in 2016, undergoing a complete transformation of the area. The aim of the project has always been two-fold:
to have a beautiful natural environmental area in the heart of a built-up residential zone and
to engage a hugely diverse range of people in the site with related activities.
Through the Techies in Residence project we have already made significant impact having developed and implemented an interactive digital engagement platform which has currently three main benefits:
The provision of an interactive story trail using QR codes to encourage families and children to visit and take them on a fun and inspiring tour of the site, increasing their appreciation of nature and allowing them to explore all the various site areas.
The delivery of an online donation tool where all visitors to the site are encouraged to donate to the ongoing Cornfield development activities.
The development of an initial wire-frame basic set-up for the hosting of a Membership Services Area – this is a crucial aspect of the work as this area will host educational resources for primary schools (the first of these is currently under development through a project with the Ulster University and local schools). The resources will be made available to local schools through an annual subscription model which will generate an ongoing income to support the project’s sustainability in the long-term
Discussions and planning in the lead up to the UK City of Culture 2013 re-ignited an interest in how the local community in Shantallow might better celebrate the rich and varied heritage which exists in the Greater Shantallow area of Derry. Despite having a wealth of history and interesting stories to tell, these heritage assets are over-looked and under-appreciated, not featuring in any local tourist information, marketing or investment plans.
Working and liaising with other neighbourhoods, GSAP also recognised a lack of knowledge, awareness, understanding, interest, enjoyment of, investment in and marketing of the rich heritage available in many local neighbourhoods. and subsequently many communities are unaware of the potential exploitation of their heritage for social, community and economic benefit.
The Partnership has been slowly working on mapping assets, having conversations with key stakeholders and developing a proposal to establish a strategic heritage project – a heritage trail that celebrates the diverse heritage of Greater Shantallow by a) using digital interpretation as a means of telling local stories, b) enhancing local educational, skills and knowledge base, c) growing community tourism through social enterprise and d) extending the city-wide offer and adding to the ‘Derry’ story.
The team knew that the use of digital technology would considerably enhance the project’s impact and that’s where the intervention of a ‘techie in residence’ was vital. Being paired with OLI has enabled GSAP to develop and learn about the processes to build a functioning prototype app that can showcase the area’s heritage assets to key stakeholders. It was agreed that the solution to the ‘problem’ would have two key elements – a) a digital solution / prototype app developed by OLI based on their award winning app platform, b) content – developed by the GSAP team, initially a 7-point heritage trail to showcase the potential of the app and the “North Townlands Heritage Trail”.
One of The Old Library Trust’s (OLT) key area of work is addressing the issue of childhood obesity. The Trust has been delivering the SWEET programme for over 5 years. It is a family based childhood obesity prevention and management programme that adopts a community development approach working in the heart of communities the Western Health and Social Care Trust area. It is recognised as a model of good practice and is an active member of the EPODE international network (EIN) working towards giving all children the opportunity to lead a healthy life.
A major challenge is that OLT can only deliver 9 programmes a year reaching a maximum of 60 families. This does not create enough impact in the community and needs to be improved. Through Techies in Residence, the aim is to digitise the SWEET Project and make it a fun, interactive and enjoyable e-learning experience that could have a greater reach and bigger impact across the Western Trust.
Through working with Learning Pool, OLT has been moving their successful programme online, and benefiting from the expertise of Learning Pool to create an engaging and safe space. The process has involved cooking demos with David Meade, developing the frameworks and converting the years of expertise of the OLT team into a suitable e-learning format that will work with the targeted userbase. Paul McElvaney- founder of Learning Pool said of the project: “I’m a strong advocate of Corporate Social Responsibility, which we take very seriously at Learning Pool- we love to give back. From bake sales for charity, career enrichment to university scholarships, it’s pretty busy! We were approached with an overview of the programme and we thought it was a super opportunity to get involved in a local community imitative. The Learning Pool team are passionate about CSR, so working with George and his team to combat childhood obesity makes perfect sense for us. We can help scale the number of people who will benefit from the programme and we’re really excited about working with George and his team to make this come to life. We plan to include some video demonstrations on food preparation and making the module interactive and fun for the end users, as well as helping share it nationally to promote the Old Library Trust’s profile As this project has been so successful as a face to face workshop the biggest challenge is the transition to a digital platform.”
Specialisterne NI have been trying to help more managers and team leaders in companies to have the opportunity to think differently about employees and team members who have a social communication difference. This is in response to unemployment statistics for Autistic people (estimated 86%), the experiences of Autistic people, and also feedback in focus groups where Autistic people identified other people’s perceptions as the main barrier they faced regarding being part of communities. Technology enables Specialisterne to reach more people than they currently can..
Specialisterne and Logicearth have developed a prototype e-learning tool that captures a learning agent that has achieved perceptual change in relation to working with employees who have a social communication difference. They have used technology to develop a tool that captures participants’ instinctual (first) response, and offers an opportunity to select a new (or continued) response further to learning about Autistic people’s viewpoints.
This is exciting as, using technology in this way, captures key transformational aspects of the training:
participant’s responses are not judged as incorrect, which tends to close off the learning window
as a tool, it can be used for multiple variations of scenario based training, and across subject matters (not just Autism), which means it has potential to scale
it differentiated the learning tool from other e-learning currently available
free text has been included as an option for participants, which allows more control to participants, and future potential of more accurate analysis of learners’ perceptions of Autism at the start and end of the e-learning journey.
We’re working with some of the best organisations across the VCSE sector in Northern Ireland through Techies in Residence. We asked each of them their views on why they got involved in the project, and what they want to get out of it.
Tell us a little about your organisation.
Women’s Aid is the lead voluntary organisation in Northern Ireland addressing domestic and sexual violence and providing services for women and children. Women’s Aid Federation NI is the regional umbrella body for Women’s Aid groups across the country, of which there are nine in total. We act as the regional voice for Women’s Aid in Northern Ireland, striving to ensure that the voices and needs of survivors are at the forefront of policy and decision-making. Our main areas of work include:
Running the 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline providing emotional support and information to women and men affected by domestic or sexual violence
Delivering preventative education programmes that help children recognise abuse and stay safe
Training front-line staff and professionals, from police to pharmacists, to understand domestic and sexual violence and how to support victims
Raising public awareness about domestic and sexual violence and how we can tackle it
Lobbying government to provide vital support, education, protection and justice to survivors of domestic & sexual violence
Promoting the work of our local Women’s Aid groups, who provide vital refuge and outreach services to women and children
What do you hope to achieve from the Techies in Residence Programme?
With the TIR programme we hope to develop an online tool that can help people learn about healthy relationships and domestic abuse. In particular, we want to raise awareness of those forms of non-physical abuse that people are less aware of, such as emotional, financial and sexual abuse, as well as a range of controlling behaviours that can constitute a form of abuse in themselves or can be warning signs of future abuse. We want to contribute to a cultural shift in how people think about and understand relationships. Many behaviours that are presented as ‘normal’ or ‘romantic’ in the media are actually abusive, or precursors to abuse, and we want to give people the tools to ‘re-educate’ themselves and recognise abuse as early on in a relationship as possible. Research shows that it takes 35 incidents of domestic abuse before a victim will seek help. We want people reaching out to us and other support services earlier than this so that they can get the help they need before domestic abuse has a chance to impact severely on their lives, self-esteem and/or mental health.
How much technology does your organisation currently use?
WAFNI and the Helpline each have their own Facebook page and Twitter account, which are very actively maintained with several new posts a day. We also have a website that is regularly updated to include news, events, job vacancies, etc. and we contribute content to third party websites as well, such as CommunityNI. The Helpline also uses a range of confidential online databases to log anonymous and non-identifying information about calls and to check refuge bed spaces across the country, among other things.
What’s the largest impact that Techies in Residence will have on your organisation?
The TIR programme will enable Women’s Aid NI to create and put in place a basic framework for development, both for our organisation and for all Women’s Aid groups across Northern Ireland.
All 10 Women’s Aid groups work independently, operating a range of different services and using varying degrees of technology to reach out to those who need help and support. What’s needed is a joined-up approach that enables people to quickly and easily find information about what services are available in their area and how they can access them. This is currently lacking across the Women’s Aid groups in Northern Ireland. This online portal will serve as a sort of ‘tech amalgamation’, bringing all the different Women’s Aid websites, social media, apps and other tech tools together in the one virtual place – a virtual one-stop shop. This will simplify the process of seeking information and getting help.
We envision that the online portal product coming out of the TIR programme will lay the foundation for the development of this joined-up approach and will be the starting point of a tool that we will continue to add resources to and apply for funding to improve in the future.