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MIRRA: Memory – Identity – Rights in Records – Access



Archive for October, 2020

MIRRA+ By Peter Williams

By Elizabeth J Lomas, on 22 October 2020

… we are pleased to announce that the MIRRA project has obtained further funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In our first project we focused on understanding the information needs of care experienced individuals, and this enabled us to build a set of recommendations around the creation, management and ongoing accessibility of children’s social care records. This had the aim of better supporting the care experienced to enrich their memories and their sense of identity’. Some work from this first phase is still ongoing. However, with this new funding we are now developing a set of specifications that can underpin a new record-keeping system for use in child social care that takes our recommendations into account and which centres the needs of the person in care. Crucially, it will  be designed to provide better opportunities for care experienced individuals to contribute to their files. We are delighted to be working with the commercial company OLM Systems on this. OLM are expert software developers who work with public services and the wider care sector. This next phase of the work will be known as MIRRA+. The result of the research will be an open-source specification for a participatory digital social care recording system.

As previously, we will also be working with care-leavers (as co-researchers), social care workers and information professionals who will be using the system. We wish to capture their views on what the system should look like, how it should function, and what features would work for them.

I keep saying ‘we’ of course, but in fact I should introduce myself. I am Peter Williams, the new Research Associate working full time on the project. I have worked as a researcher at UCL on various projects since 2004 but am delighted to have this opportunity. In addition, I will be working with Anna Sexton. Anna worked on the initial pilot project that was the forerunner to MIRRA. In my case, at the time of the first MIRRA I was working on a British Academy-funded study looking at the role and impact of mobile devices on the lives of people with learning disabilities – the last of a long line of projects working with this group. However, I kept up to speed on MIRRA, partly because it was similar to my own work  ‘participatory’ also in that those involved were not mere research ‘subjects’, but ‘participants’ (if not ‘co-researchers’) and partly because I shared an office with the amazing Victoria Hoyle who worked on MIRRA full time. It will be very hard to match her expertise, although I hope I have the same enthusiasm, and will certainly try my best! Elizabeth Shepherd and Elizabeth Lomas continue to work on MIRRA too.

Meanwhile, watch this space for more news on our progress!

Up Close and Policy! Care leavers’ access to childhood records: the British Association of Social Workers, Ofsted, the Care Leavers Association and MIRRA project team

By Elizabeth J Lomas, on 12 October 2020

As you know, MIRRA is trying to make change surrounding social care recordkeeping processes including access and ownership of those records by care leavers. In addition we have been looking at the wider information networks that help care leavers make sense of their lives. This is a journey, which many of our MIRRA research participants have been working on for a very long time. A critical intention of MIRRA from the outset, was to provide an evidence base to help facilitate critical policy changes for the care leaver community. Clearly this work has had a much greater impact because of the role of care leavers as co-researchers at the heart of the project advocating for their needs. We have been grateful for the support of the Care Leavers Association. In addition, from the outset we were able to get key stakeholders involved as advisors.

On Wednesday 14th October, we will be discussing the MIRRA policy journey with some critical players – Darren Coyne (Care Leavers Association), Luke Geoghegan (British Association of Social Workers) and Matthew Brazier (Ofsted). Social workers have been keen to reconsider aspects of their recording processes and the importance of the child’s voice in recordkeeping. In August BASW, drawing on MIRRA guidance, published top tips for recording practices (https://www.basw.co.uk/resources/recording-children%E2%80%99s-social-work-guide ). In addition, Ofsted have taken very seriously the impact inspections can have on recordkeeping processes. This was a great blog post from Ofsted on records https://socialcareinspection.blog.gov.uk/2019/07/24/what-makes-an-effective-case-record/ . MIRRA has reached out and tried to make a difference to on the ground practice, both through the traditional networks of Whitehall but in addition through other critical players from professionals through to charities and local authorities.

We hope that some of you might want to come and join this discussion on policy making within the context of MIRRA. It is on Zoom at 1-2pm Wednesday 14th October. Please sign up at https://upcloseandpolicycareleavers.eventbrite.co.uk.