Introducing Patchwork – the safeguarding app

Having spent four months working closely with eternally supportive project partners Lichfield District Council and NESTA, the time has come to announce the next stage in the development of the Safeguarding 2.0 project.

Almost two years ago now (how time flies!) we set ourselves the challenge of bringing together our knowledge of social technologies, service design and local government with the insight of both children, families and frontline support workers to develop a new approach to safeguarding through better connecting those individuals and organisations involved in all parts of the process.

We’ve interviewed frontline practitioners, interviewed clients, attended multi-agency working groups and worked through a range of options with ICT and information governance teams to develop a prototype web application designed with and for the people who will ultimately benefit from it the most. You can read more about what we’ve been up to over the last 4 months here and here.

Patchwork – the safeguarding app

Today we can announce that the web application, called Patchwork, we will be launched in prototype in Lichfield later this month.

Patchwork is designed for people supporting complex families to build and strengthen their relationships, keeping the child and their family at the centre of everything they do.

In short, Patchwork helps you:

  • Get a quick and easy overview of the people you’re supporting
  • Find out who else is working with them and how to contact them
  • Invite in other people you think should be involved
  • Keep the picture up-to-date for all involved

Testing the prototype

In May we will be running the prototype within Lichfield, inviting in a range of people within public sector and third sector organisations responsible for the welfare of vulnerable adults and children.

During the prototype phase of the project, Patchwork will be hosted on Staffordshire County Council’s IT infrastructure ensuring we ensure both security while also making sure it is accessible to the council’s partner organisations.

While the prototype will be restricted to a test group of professionals, over the next few weeks we’ll be revealing screenshots, stories and more information on our design decisions.

In the meantime, you can sign up to our mailing list to be kept up to date with developments at

And beyond

We’re also interested in meeting with other authorities that think they might want to use Patchwork. If you’re interested in testing a new approach to Safeguarding, or have any additional questions on any of our work so far, please do get in touch.


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  • This is not an area I know much about, so an obvious question: what do the people being helped make of this? Do they have any rights to see the information that relates to them? Do they know of the existence of this tool that helps keep lots of professionals up to date about what is happening to or around them? Presumably, they realise that this sort of knowledge-sharing was always going on, so in principle they ought not to object to it being done more effectively and conveniently etc, but … Interested in any thoughts you have on this sort of issue in relation to the new tool.

    • Paul, a very good question, I’d say. For our first trial of the prototype, all clients are made aware of the tool and have the option to be involved or not – this is essential from a governance perspective. We’ve developed a leaflet to leave with them, and should they wish to see the data recorded they can.

      Our vision is far more ambitious, however. I’m keen to explore in the future how families can have access (and editing rights) to the information in the tool, whether via the web or other more convenient means. At first glance this throws up significant challenges from the various organisations governance perspectives (who are the data owners, who are the data controllers) but ultimately it’s the way I see this sort of data management going. It would allow the family to be in control of their information, updating as they see fit, and community with their team. As I’ve said from the start, our aim for Patchwork is to expose new practitioners to the team around a client, and the client to their team.

      We are hosting a workshop with parents later this month to feedback their thoughts on the prototype as it stands and to help set a direction for how this could work, practically, for them.

      • Hi Ian
        I’m based in New Zealand in social services sector and we have many of the same challenges re telling a families story in a coherent way, many different record keeping tools etc. I have had an idea to bring a few key partners together to trial an info sharing system and am working on that – thought I’d do some research to do that and lo and behold UK is onto it! Please their is like minded folk out there. I’ve seen this model and the Protocol model so far. This has given me timely evidence that it can be done and we should try something like this. I also absolutely agree re the families having access to their information and have long advocated for that – it is their journey and strory after all! all the best for the launch and I’ll be watching with interest.

      • Hi Ian
        Re your vision, I think it’s spot on. One of the continuing frustrations I experience in my role in this domain, is that whilst Councils and other Agencies are eager to harvest information about a family, with information provided by the family, they are hugely reluctant to share this amongst themselves. I have always believed that Children, YP, Families and Older People should be the guardians of their own data, they have their repository, controlled form their end, and others are able to see it. Gets round the DP issues.
        Good luck in your venture

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