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Business & Economy

A start-up with an inspirational life story

A Sunderland technology start-up is aiming to transform the lives of young people in care after developing a bespoke system to document their life journey.

Seven360, which was launched just eight months ago, has been working with voluntary adoption agency ARC Adoption North East to develop ‘ARCBOX’, a cloud-based system which provides a digital Life Story tool primarily for looked after children.

Life Story is an account of a child’s life in words, pictures and documents, and an opportunity to explore emotions through play, conversation and counselling.

Local authorities currently have a statutory duty to create life story books for all adopted children, but they often vary hugely in quality.

Traditionally, adopted children’s parents are given the child’s printed ‘hard copy’ life story book when the child is adopted.

However, this could soon be a thing of the past. Currently in the pilot stage, ARCBOX enables local authorities and other care providers to compile a child centered digital Life Story and most importantly, the child can contribute to their own Life Story.

Founder Steve Young said: “The platform we’ve developed has the potential to transform the way a child’s Life Story is compiled and used. We are putting the child at the centre of Life Story work and giving them a sense of ownership.

“We’ve worked closely with ARC Adoption and some local authorities to develop the system and are already starting to receive some very positive reviews.

“It’s cloud-based, which means it is accessible anywhere, using any device, and can be retrieved by authorities and organisations across the country.”

Based at the City Council’s Evolve Business Centre in Houghton-le-Spring, Seven360 now employs four members of staff and boasts an impressive client list.

“We are currently running trials with Sunderland City Council, Cumbria County Council and Durham County Council and are excited about the future,” Steve added.

“The company has only been going for eight months but we’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time.”

As well as creating software to improve the Life Story for children in care, Seven360 has also developed cutting edge digital services to support the education of young children across the North East.

Founding Partner and Technical Director Neil Strong said: “We have developed several cloud-based services for local authorities and schools including a service to track the educational performance of looked-after children.

“Northumberland County Council is the first organisation to use the software and we hope to roll out the service to more local authorities soon.

“We also run an integrated ‘whole-school’ system for primary schools across the wider region as well as picking up our first school contract in the Midlands.

“This includes a number of mobile apps and an innovative service to enable organisations to manage and document their General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance.”

Sunderland City Council has supported Steve and Neil throughout their business journey with Seven360, helping the firm establish itself outside of the region.

Steve said: “The council has been absolutely brilliant. Not only have they helped us get our products market-ready but they have also provided fantastic support from a marketing perspective.

“Thanks to support from the council, we are now looking to market our services to other organisations and are set to showcase our products at the British Educational Training and Technology Show (BETT), which is being held at the ExCel Centre in London in January.

“BETT is attended by education providers and businesses from across the globe and will help us reach people we never thought possible. It’s a very exciting time for us!”

Sunderland City Council Leader, Cllr Graeme Miller, said: “The work of Seven360 is incredible and we are pleased to be able to support its progress.“Their work could transform the lives of hundreds of young people across the region and has the capacity to grow far beyond that.

“It is a business with real potential, and we are excited to see what the future will bring for them.”