MOMO tech to empower the next generation of children in care

Profile: The Mind of My Own app gives children in care the chance to open up and take control of their lives
18th September 2017

In 2014, we shared the story of MOMO (Mind of My Own) – the South-West-based startup organisation that’s using tech to change the way social care is delivered to children for the better.

Back then, as now, the organisations was firmly rebutting the saying that ‘children should be seen and not heard’. MOMO combines digital tech with children’s rights in its signature product – an app that helps children to communicate the things that matter to them, including sorting out problems, setting up meetings or simply sharing how they’re feeling.

“MOMO believes that all children should have their voices heard”

 

Three years on (four since the startup began its work) and MOMO has not only been recognised as one of Public’s top 100 influencers in helping to drive change in the public sector through the use of technology, but its flagship app for children in care has now been relaunched with a second developed for children with learning disabilities. Keen to find out more we caught up with company directors Yvonne Anderson and Jill Thorburn to get the latest.

A digital voice

MOMO now have three apps – MOMO One, the original app for young people, MOMO Express, which has been tailored towards children with learning disabilities, and Service MOMO, which helps services implement the apps into their direct work and analyse the data they generate.

Yvonne (pictured left) tells us: “MOMO One was the original MOMO app for children, young people and their workers. It makes it possible for young children to capture their views with carefully phrased prompts and questions to make conversations easier. These views are then recreated in a ‘MOMOdoc’ and passed on to the relevant person, creating a conversation channel for young people and their workers.

“MOMO Express is an accessible app for young people with learning disabilities and younger children. MOMO believes that all children should have their voices heard and this is essential for those with a learning disability.

“MOMO Express is a co-designed, innovative and user-friendly app that uses expressive pictures and minimal text, with features that can be tailored to the need of each individual child. Its purpose is to be used for any education, health or social planning or review process.”

You can check out how MOMO One and MOMO Express work in the video below:

Since the launch of the apps, MOMO now work with over 60 local authorities and organisations in five countries to help children and young people using social care services to feed their views into the decision making about their lives.

“We co-create all of our products with the group of young people who will be using them”

 

As Jill (pictured right) explains: “Children tell us that this is the way they find is easiest to communicate their views. Our children have grown up in a digital world and say that if they have something difficult to say they can do this easier by text chat. The apps give them a structure to work to which helps them order their thoughts.

“However, we would never consider our apps as finished products and believe they should be constantly tested and iterated to ensure they remain current and relevant to the young people who use them. We co-create all of our products with the group of young people who will be using them.”

And with positive feedback from children rolling in on a weekly basis, it’s hard to argue – with one child stating: “It gives me hope” and another: “If something happens over the weekend I can send it straight away because my brain doesn’t remember things that long. It is simple, I can give as little or as much detail as I want, give examples and I would use it often.”

Redesign, reinvent

As with all successful startups, the ability to adapt and improve is essential. MOMO’s original founder has now moved onto pastures new but has left behind a legacy, as Jill tells us: “MOMO One as a concept was the brainchild of one of our founders Joe Roberson. But being based in the South West enabled him to have good networks with other innovative startups in the region.”

So, offering her advice on making the most of a redesign and growth of the startup, Jill adds: “We have learned how to make sure that we always map relevant processes to make sure we don’t miss anything out and are able to critique and question the steps we are about to take. This has helped us to be efficient and move quickly when we have needed to.”

You can find out more about the MOMO apps on the Mind of my Own website and stay tuned via Twitter here: @MindOfMyOwnApp.