Recently, we ran an event with Integrate, a communities and voluntary services organisation in Lambeth that has done a lot of work with Lambeth Council and has helped us get connected to their members. We talked to charities about the app and how it could help them, inviting them to use Mentimeter to record their thoughts. This blog summarises their feedback—much of it positive!
After explaining what My Best Life is all about and giving a brief demonstration of the app, we asked people for their initial impressions.
As you can see from the above bar chart, no-one really had anything negative to say about the app! The majority thought we were “on the right track”. A few people thought our strategy and/or app needed work, but they could see the value in this. Amazingly, one person thought the app was the solution to all their problems!
Of course, we’re interested in the detailed comments. Here are some of the questions we asked and the answers we received.
What are your impressions?
Firstly, we wanted to follow up on the initial positive impressions that people had. When they talked about the app, words like “simple”, “to the point”, “innovative” and “intuitive” were used.
People could see how the app would make it easier for young people to find things to do in their area. They said we had a good range of options available, and seemed to be offering initiatives that encouraged young people to challenge themselves. Many were happy to recommend the app to their young people.
Digging into the detail, people wanted to know how inclusive the app would be—in particular, how friendly it was to people with dyslexia. One person suggested making a video demonstrating to young people how to use the app.
The fact that we involved young people in the app’s development was described as “positive” and “important” because it meant their voices were being heard. However, we were warned that some young people may need additional help to engage with the app. People also suggested that different options should be visible for young people of different ages—for example, once a young person turns 16 and is able to start working, they should be seeing more job opportunities on the app.
Some wondered about the possibility of “creating a community” on the app, such as through youth ambassadors championing particular services, or young people sharing recommendations from the app to their own social media pages. There was also a potential for “cross-promotion” between organisations so young people could have access to a variety of services.
People agreed that the app needed regular updates (such as youth entertainment events) to “keep it fresh” and give young people “plenty to scroll through”. They felt that the more services we included, the better. They asked questions about how we would gather information about the services on offer. They also flagged the capacity of organisations to update the app as a possible issue—many are not the most tech-savvy, and rely on volunteers in this area. These organisations may need investment so they can update the app and we can have a good range of services on the app. Otherwise, organisations which are doing good things may get left behind, and young people might not want the services they end up seeing.
The issue of trust was important to the youth workers. We were asked how we were going to review the services on the app, and how we would present the content and opportunities. No-one wanted a bad experience with a service provider to put young people off using the app. One member of the group suggested that the app should mention a named person to ask for when getting in touch with a service—as calling and waiting for “a random person” to answer the phone might “terrify” young people.
People liked the fact that we were taking steps to protect privacy, as they knew this was important to their young people. However, one person wondered if parents should be able to see what their child’s needs are.
In your experience, what stops you from reaching young people?
We wanted to understand the difficulties that charities and youth workers are currently facing so that we can think about how the My Best Life app might address them. Here are some of the responses we received:
- Lack of knowledge of young people’s needs. If the youth workers running the service do not have a good understanding of what is going on in local young people’s lives, their communications might not seem relevant.
- Unconscious bias, due to a young person’s previous experience with services. A young person who has been let down in the past is unlikely to trust other services. They may assume that youth workers do not actually care about them.
- The mental health of a young person. When someone has (certain) mental health issues, they can be quiet and withdrawn as a result. It may be challenging for youth workers to help young people out of this “funk” and get them to open up.
- Lack of connections with young people. Sometimes, parents or guardians do not pass on information about services to their children. At other times, organisations find they have been trying to reach a target group through a medium that is actually not very popular with said group. One youth worker was told by a young person that Facebook and Instagram are for “old people”!
- The image of their service. This may put young people off, if they feel the service has nothing to offer them. Advertising has to be pitched at the right level.
- Lack of awareness of their services among young people. The youth workers present told us that many of their young people came to the service by word of mouth, rather than any more formal promotion. This may limit both the reach of the service and its ability to attract new people.
- Lack of resources or financial support. Services are concerned about having enough funding to advertise their offer and/or bring in more young people.
How would you see you / your organisation using this app day-to-day?
Many at the event thought they would signpost young people to the app, especially if they were new, to highlight the various services that could support them. They might also promote it to young people through their own channels, including flyers, their website and their social media.
Youth workers saw the possibility of sharing their own services and opportunities (such as apprenticeships and activities) on the app, and perhaps targeting certain age groups with services designed for those age groups. In this regard, they were less likely to use the app on a day-to-day basis, but thought having a presence on the app would still be useful. The app could be used during school holidays, perhaps to show young people what they could be doing over half-term.
One person said they would be interested in the possibility of young people contacting them through the app, or asking questions via the app to find out more about what they do. Another person thought the app might make it easier to work with different services or organisations who are already working with young people, to get them on board with what their own service is doing or trying to build on.
Do you want to get involved?
- Share our app: We’re interested in speaking to charities and youth workers in Lambeth (where we’re piloting the app), as well as other parts of the UK, to help us think about how the app might be scaled or replicated. Get in touch to help shape the app by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- Get listed on our app: Are you a charity in Lambeth offering services for young people, and would you like to be listed in our app? Again, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch to be listed by emailing email@example.com
Our app is due to be launched in BETA in May, so keep an eye out for updates here on the Labs site!