An app developed at the University of Strathclyde, which was designed to support global child protection work during the COVID-19 pandemic, has won a Scotland-wide award.
The COVID 4P (Protection, Provision, Participation, Prevention) Log was named the winner in the Making A Social Difference category of the Scottish Knowledge Exchange (KE) Awards.
The smartphone app, produced in partnership with 17 organisations worldwide, was developed for policymakers and practitioners in children's rights and wellbeing to share their views and experiences of their work in the midst of the pandemic anonymously. The project was led by the Strathclyde-based Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures.
The app was designed to gather intelligence to address more effectively the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on children in the long term. It has also enhanced understanding of the changing demands on policies and practices, which vary widely across cultures, countries and continents.
The win was announced at an awards ceremony in Dundee.
Professor Jennifer Davidson OBE, Executive Director of the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures, said: “We are delighted to win this award, which is a testament to the determination and hard work of our partners worldwide - and in particular Child Rights Coalition Asia and Terre des hommes - who have worked alongside each other and with our team at the Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures to find new and innovative ways to support children facing adversity.
“’Making a difference’ is at the very heart of our mission at Inspiring Children’s Futures and reflects our University of Strathclyde’s commitment to make an impact through research. So it is an honour to have this partnership project celebrated in this way.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, and the consequent lockdown, created hugely testing circumstances for everyone. But for many children in the most vulnerable of circumstances, it was exacerbated by heightened risks and the challenges in delivering the services which they urgently require.
“The COVID 4P Log enabled us and our fellow practitioners to inform and advise each other on dealing with an environment which was quite without precedent. This is knowledge exchange in its truest sense and it has had tangible, lasting benefits for children’s services, and even more importantly, for the children we serve and support.”
The app asked one question a day over an eight-week period; the questions were based on the 4P human rights framework of protecting children, providing for their unique needs, enabling their participation in decisions that affect them, and preventing harm.
The eight-week, real-time, daily survey received more than 3300 responses from 22 countries across five continents, including Canada, Kenya, India, the Philippines, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, and the US.
The collected data was turned into a regular Learning Report Series, to inform a better understanding of the necessary policies and practices for children's well-being during the pandemic and builds systems resilience for future emergencies.
The project found that listening to children about their needs and involving them more closely in decision-making could have improved global responses to the pandemic. People working with children - including teachers, care workers and community health workers - also cited lack of access, insufficient funding, school disruption and barriers to advocacy among the challenges they faced in supporting children, particularly those facing the highest risks, during the pandemic.
However, more professionals also reported positive outcomes prompted by the pandemic, including creative uses of technology, community liaison, raising awareness of children’s risks and rights, and combining virus protection with psychosocial support.
The COVID 4P Log’s key partners include: African Child Policy Forum; African Partnership to End Violence Against Children; Barnafrid National Centre on Violence Against Children; Child Rights Coalition Asia; Child Rights Connect; Defence for Children International; European Social Network; FICE; Global Social Services Workforce Alliance; International Child and Youth Care Network; National Child Welfare Workforce Institute USA; OECD; Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just and Inclusive Societies; REPSSI; UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children; The Observatory of Children’s Human Rights Scotland; Terre des hommes, and the #CovidUnder19 initiative. In addition, it is supported by a large network of in-country dissemination partners, who further promoted the project.
Ivan McKee, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, said: “Today’s awards showcase the impactful collaborations between businesses and the academic community and their role in translating Scotland’s world-class research into knowledge that makes impact.
“Bringing together Scotland’s businesses with the knowledge, expertise and networks of our research community is central to achieving the ambitions of the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation and our upcoming Innovation Strategy, both in creating the inventions and innovations of the future, and in supporting translation of these into impact and opportunity.”
Professor Andrea Nolan, Chair of the Interface Strategic Board and Principal & Vice Chancellor of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “The annual flagship awards event for business-academic partnerships have gone from strength to strength since launching eight years ago. They celebrate the very best of people and partnerships involved in shaping game-changing innovations across Scotland.”