Category Archives: Engagement

Working with Mithun, an Ambassador of Acorns Children’s Hospice

Following a meeting at Acorns Children’s Hospice in Walsall with Naz Bi and some young people, our Business Development Manager, Sue, and our Designer, Harry, arranged a meeting with Mithun, an Ambassador of Acorns, at his home.  Many thanks to Mithun, who has kindly given up some time to help us with feedback on the features and designs of the app during the development phase.

Mithun was kind enough to tell everyone a little about himself and how he got involved in the Heroes and Guises Project.

“I got involved with Acorns Children’s Hospice from the young age of 7, when I first started to attend their respite care and their services. Whilst I was attending Acorns I made quite a lot of friends. We used to stay up late, watch movies, play games and have take-aways. The best part at being at Acorns was going in for respite with my friends. I was discharged from Acorns and their services recently at the age of 21 due to the age limit.

When I reached the age of 19, Acorns were looking for people to volunteer as an Ambassador and I put my name forward. Being an Acorns Ambassador enables me to still be apart of Acorns and to make a real difference to my life, as well as improving Acorns services and the future of paediatric palliative care and adult care services.

The second edition of Acorn’s ‘Kurious Viewz’ magazine started as a task that I signed up for with my friend. Creating this magazine has given me the opportunity to bring my artistic talent to life and to learn new software. I have been part of a team and have experienced Acorns’ client views on holidays, outings and interests by reading through the articles as I was putting them together.

Being a part of the Heroes and Guises Creative Writing App Project has enabled me to be part of the design process, based on the survey I did with Sue and the Designer, Harry.  The app will benefit me by trying out something new and different, that I have never tried before. The app will enable me to write stories and share stories with friends on social sites such as Facebook. I look forward to the finished product and testing the app once it is ready.”

Once the app is ready, we will be arranging another visit to Mithun so that he can test the app and give us more valuable feedback.

Heroes and Guises at ‘Living Healthy with Diabetes’ Conference and Exhibition

Harry showing designsMany thanks to Gursh Athwall at Diabetes UK for the invitation to attend their one day event to promote a healthy lifestyle for people living with diabetes in the Wolverhampton area.

I attended the event with Russell and Harry at Wolverhampton Racecourse to introduce Heroes & Guises. Throughout the day, we had the opportunity to find out more about diabetes and talk to people living with diabetes, and their carers. We enjoyed networking with other organisations at the event, some who offered to display our promotional material at their groups, and others who signposted us to local organisations that may be interested in our project.Sue getting feedbackRussell and I received lots of useful feedback on the features of the app and we all chatted to people who took time to complete our survey. Our designer Harry received valuable feedback on design mockups, which have helped to guide key aspects of the user experience.

We discussed the positive health benefits of creative writing and we found that people who were interested in creative writing were open to writing using an app. Some people offered to pass our promotional material to young people in their families who use smartphone apps and who are also interested in creative writing.Demonstrating designsMany thanks to Diabetes UK for inviting us to the event, and to everyone who gave up their time to talk to us and give us some feedback on the project. The staff at Wolverhampton Racecourse provided us with lots of cups of tea throughout the day, and a very enjoyable hot lunch! Thanks too to the organisations who offered to display our promotional material at local support groups and venues. All the support and feedback is very much appreciated!

If you’d like to contribute to the development and design of the app, please complete our online survey now!

By Sue Brettell, Business Development Manager

What can be achieved in 12 weeks?

ClockThe short time period in which we have chosen to test our idea might be the cause of some nail biting for the team, but it was intentional for a few reasons:

  • To fail fast: We want to know if other people think our idea is good as soon as possible. In the tech industry we like to ‘fail fast’ so that as little money and time is spent on bad ideas. However, failing fast doesn’t mean giving up. It means ‘learning fast’, so that if something needs to be changed then we can make that change and move forward.
  • To be staffed by interns: A full-time graduate internship form the University of Wolverhampton’s STEP scheme is 12-weeks. A big part of our project is about creating employment opportunities and giving people a chance to get work experience. Our app is being designed, built and promoted by recent graduates. We want to show that in 12 weeks an intern can achieve a lot and contribute to something meaningful. It’s not an easy time for them, but the skills they are gaining are invaluable.
  • To remain focused: There are no luxuries in 12 weeks. We cannot spend hours tweaking small details and trying to implement peripheral features. We have to remain focused on the goal, which is to test the core idea with our target audience. If they like it then we can make it better, but for now we just need to make it.

It was also a reality-check to realise that 12 weeks is considered end of life care for many young people with terminal illnesses. Our graduates are having an intense 12 week period to kick off their careers, whilst some young people are having an intense 12 weeks that will end their lives.

To make the best use of our 12 weeks we have divided our time into fortnightly sprints, coming together after each one to reflect, discuss and plan the next 2 weeks. This is helping us to stay focused and manage our time in this short period. It is refreshing and sobering to know that we started in September and by Christmas we will be finished with our prototype phase, hopefully with the answers we need to begin moving forward in the New Year.

By Russell Goffe-Wood, Project Director.

The motivation behind the project

Chapter 1It is with great pleasure that we are here, being given a chance to create something that has the potential to help people. Thanks to Creative England, Creative Skills for Life and the University of Wolverhampton, Horbury & Goffe have been able to pull together a talented team to build and test our idea. We are a team that is passionate about creativity and we are an organisation that is passionate about creating innovative solutions that help people to help themselves.

Heroes & Guises might seem like a game on the surface. You can interact with your friends and make new friends. You might gain some points and get to the next level, but along the way you are being creative. You are having to think of ideas and bounce off other people on the fly and in the moment. These skills are important for people that want to help themselves, to solve their own problems in their lives. If we can help people to learn these skills in a fun way, and in a way that helps them to express themselves at the same time, then we feel we are doing some good.

We want to make something new to the world that is engaging and can inspire people. We want your help to do this. You can give us feedback on our idea in our survey. You can install our prototype app when it is ready and tell us what you think about it. We are building this tool to help young people with life-threatening illnesses. I wish we couldn’t say there was a market for this, but it seems that this represents a huge number of young people. If you are in this group we want your input above all. We also want input from writers, non-writers, techies, designers, young people, older people, carers, parents and anyone with an opinion. If what we are doing can look better or be better or be more helpful then we need to know.

Please keep reading this blog and share it with your friends. In the coming weeks of our short prototyping period we will introduce you to our team and what they are doing. We will also give you previews of the app and how it will look and work. We will also be testing and giving away a paper version of our game.

By Russell Goffe-Wood, Project Director.