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Business & Economy

New tech innovation to support South Tyneside care system

A new tech solution will enable young people in the South Tyneside care system to access loved memories that may otherwise be lost or forgotten.

Developed by Nebula Labs, the Virtual Memory Box is the result of an innovation call led by South Tyneside Council as part of their Department for Education Partners in Practice Innovation Programme and supported by Digital Catapult North East Tees Valley (NETV).

“Currently, there is a huge gap in the care system for young people in care, who are finding themselves unable to safely store and access memories of their time spent with foster carers. This can make it difficult for them to understand their own life story.” comments Lucy Cook, Service Lead for Childrens and Families Social Care from South Tyneside Council.

“Our Children and Families Social Care Team conducted research with those in care to better understand the challenges they were facing and how technology could help. We found that there was an opportunity for the development of safe and secure technology to facilitate the storage of memories and photos for our care leavers, children and young people and their carers.

“We approached Digital Catapult NETV to learn more about developing a Virtual Memory Box in partnership with a company from the digital and tech community. The process has been brilliant. “

Ryan, a care experienced person commented: “Having a virtual memory box when I was in care would have been brilliant – It would have provided a space to keep things to reflect on in the future, and particularly to help in understanding my own journey through the care system. I think that this is something that will be really beneficial for children and young people moving forward.”

Sophie Craggs, Innovation Specialist at Digital Catapult NETV, said: “When South Tyneside Council approached us with the concept of a Virtual Memory Box, we were really excited. When digital innovation is driven by a clear social purpose, it stands to make the most meaningful impact. The vision behind Virtual Memory Box is that every child in care in the borough of South Tyneside should be able to access their virtual memories and ensure that they are stored in a safe place.

It’s fantastic to be given the opportunity to connect tech suppliers with such a strong purpose.

We worked with the council to produce a business challenge and invited tech and digital SMEs to come in and pitch their ideas. We were really impressed with all the applications, and are excited to see Nebula Labs’ idea in development to soon support young people and carers in South Tyneside.”

Dylan McKee, CEO at Nebula Labs, said: “We were really excited to be appointed to deliver this technology. Our version of the Virtual Memory Box will enable young people to navigate a ‘living timeline’ that consists of visual, audio and text memories displayed in a scrapbook.

This is the third time we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with the Digital Catapult NETV through a business challenge, and we’re delighted to continue our relationship with them.”