Digital solution changing lives of vulnerable young people

  • South Tyneside Council wanted a solution to help young people in care keep precious memories and mementos
  • Working with South Tyneside Council, children and carers, Newcastle based Nebula Labs developed the technology for a Virtual Memory Box
  • Young people and their foster carers and social care workers benefit from this accessible and secure platform

A new digital solution is giving young people in the South Tyneside care system the chance to store and access cherished memories that could otherwise be lost or forgotten.

Developed by award winning software house Nebula Labs, the Virtual Memory Box gives young people in care a safe and accessible space to store their memories, photographs and mementos to help them reflect and understand their life story.

The idea came after South Tyneside Council carried out research looking at the challenges young people in care face, and how technology could help. Young people may find themselves in multiple placements over a number of years which can result in possessions being misplaced or damaged. A physical box of memories – or its contents – is often one of these possessions and if lost is irreplaceable, and the impact of “losing” part of your life can be huge for a young person.

The project is further evidence that the Council is delivering on its priority of supporting young people in need.

Councillor Adam Ellison, Lead Member for Children, Young People and Families, said: “This is a really exciting additional way for children and young people to store and then access key moments from their childhood in a safe and secure way.

“Too often children can lose special photos and mementos and by storing them digitally this enables protection of things that are important and help young people understand and recall what happens to them. We are committed to ensuring children understand their life story and have access to memories and the virtual memory box is another fantastic way of doing this.”

Dylan McKee, CEO, Nebula Labs said, “We are really keen on developing digital solutions to use tech for good.  We were excited to be appointed to work with South Tyneside Council on this innovation that will have a real impact on young people’s lives.

“Our Virtual Memory Box enables young people to navigate a ‘living timeline’ of visual, audio and text memories displayed in a scrapbook style, with a chronological timeline to scroll through, or users can search through thematic tags. Foster carers and social work staff can help build the memory box, uploading content, providing narrative and responding to comments from the young person – either within the platform or in discussion.”

The Virtual Memory Box is currently being used by children, staff and carers in South Tyneside with plans to extend it even further in coming weeks. Several other local authorities from across the country have expressed interest in using the Virtual Memory Box and localising it to benefit young people in their areas.

Nebula Labs is also looking into developing the Virtual Memory Box as a tool to use for older people at home or in care settings.

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