A little over two years ago, I put out a call for help:
Sat watching the case of Baby Peter unfold on the television last year, as with the vast majority of you I’m sure, I was left feeling hugely saddened, frustrated and powerless to help prevent such events from ever happening again. I am not a social worker nor do I work for any one of the numerous agencies involved in the extremely complex and challenging world of child protection.
However, it did get me thinking about where I might be able to provide some support, specifically around how we might be able to draw on social technologies to contribute to safeguarding children.
Two years on and a lot of work from a lot of generous, creative, supportive people later, today we are announcing the next phase in the development of what was previously known as the Safeguarding 2.0 Project.
Today we can announce that we have raised £280,000 start up investment in Patchwork – the safeguarding app. This will allow us to take Patchwork from prototype to product over coming months. The investment comes from a collaboration of councils in Staffordshire (Staffordshire County, Lichfield and South Staffs, as well as their colleagues at the Improvement and Efficiency Partnership West Midlands), NESTA and the Nominet Trust.
For us, the fact that the local government sector itself is investing in Patchwork is a big deal. This is not common. Patchwork is a start up – a “dot com”. A collection of councils coming together to invest in a public service dot com start up shows just how innovative the local government sector can be, with Staffordshire at the forefront of trialing innovative approaches to solving persistent social challenges.
This is also true of NESTA (with us from the start) and Nominet, both keen to plug the ‘start up gap’ in helping to take a proven approach to scale, overcoming the inevitable barriers of getting to market faced by small start ups – in the hard to navigate and slow moving world of government even more so.
I will save the detail on the what and how for a follow on blog post, but I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. Thank you to all the people who have believed in us on this journey of open, uncertain innovation.
People like Jon Kingsbury, Carla Ross and Philip Colligan at NESTA; Nina Dawes, Nick Bell and Steve Winterflood at Lichfield, Staffordshire and South Staffordshire councils respectively; the team of people who have driven the project, in particular my colleagues Carrie Bishop, Ian Drysdale and Kathryn Wheatley, but also others like Eliot Fineberg, Andrew Bruce and Friday, a highly skilled and committed swat team. And above all the many great people in Lichfield and Staffordshire who have given generously in helping us to develop something that we hope can start to make a difference.