Blog: Children and Families Hackathon

Thursday 21 June – Over 60 passionate individuals gathered to launch our ‘find the solution’ stage with our children and families’ hackathon. The aim of the hackathon was to provide a creative, collaborative space for representatives from local authorities, central government the third sector, and innovators to generate a range of solutions to the challenges faced by vulnerable children and their families.  

To kick off the event, we heard from Emmanuel Akpan-Inwang, Founder and Director of Lighthouse, an organisation that runs children’s homes focused on providing holistic support to the children in their care. Emmanuel set out the importance of our focus on vulnerable children, for example almost one in five children in London are living in relative poverty, 72% of children in children’s homes have a diagnosable mental health condition and care leavers are 60 times more likely to be homeless than those who have not been in care.

To help the generation of ideas, each of our seven tables were given a ‘problem statement’ outlining a cross-cutting challenge for which we were looking for solutions. For example, one table considered how a lack of social skill development among vulnerable children significantly impacted on their ability to live independently[1]. From the lively debate and discussion, an idea around using technology in schools to allow children to express themselves more effectively with peers, teachers, and support staff was proposed.

Each table’s chosen idea was pitched to our panel of experienced judges which included Sarah Thomas (London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham), Chris Widgery (MHCLG), Neil Sartorio (EY) and Victoria Evans (EY) who gave feedback on the ideas based on ideas quality, outcome focus, deliverability and commercial sustainability. With a prize for the best idea, competition was fierce!

Thomas Man, the Head of Capital Ambition at London Councils, reflected, “It was really powerful to have a workshop with someone like Emmanuel from Lighthouse as both a person who experienced the care system and now trying to effect change in the care environment. My table’s key idea on “Getting the community to support the community” was very powerful and it was impressive to see the enthusiasm and support it generated among the group. However we also discussed the delivery challenges in terms of the council becoming a commissioner of activity but not providing the service itself, bolstering the voluntary and community sector and the risk of professionalising the voluntary sector.”

In the end, we had two winners: a structure for empowering communities with improved knowledge of services so that they were better able to support others and a system through which frontline professionals could effectively share data.

All seven ideas scored well enough to progress into the next stage of the process – for consideration as part of our long-list of solutions. The London Ventures team are taking an open approach and inviting individuals and organisations to help shape the ideas from the hackathon as well as contribute other ideas on our London Ventures HunchBuzz platform. You can see each of our ‘problem statements’ and the proposed ideas - to comment, create an account in less than a minute. We want to hear from you so please do get involved!