VOYCE stands for Voice Of the Young and Care Experienced, and Whakarongo Mai means ‘listen to me’. VOYCE believe that children and young people in care need to be heard and their voices kept at the centre of all the decisions made about them.
VOYCE Whakarongo Mai - the name embodies the intent, which is to provide an independent voice from children and young people to the care system, rather than an adult voice for them. Ackama worked with creative agency Curative who ran a series of co-design workshops with 14 - 17 years old in care to understand their needs, frustrations and goals in order to develop a look and layout in partnership with the very people the website is for. The resulting brand has multi-coloured sound waves to visually represent the individual and collective voices of children in care, with the semi-circle shape symbolising connection and community.
The VOYCE website needed to appeal to young people, and give them quick access to help and support. The audience has a wide age range (0-25 years), a diverse demographic and varying levels of literacy and access to technology. The website needed to appeal to the target audience by recognising and representing them in a positive way.
The website also need to safeguard the privacy of the young people using it and Ackama put safeguards into the contact and analytics systems to ensure their privacy is respected.
A highlight of the project was creating the Long Story Short section of the website where we had to work with sensitive information and present it in a compelling and understanding way. This section of the website presents videos and written posts by young people about their experience of care. Ackama produced videos, stills and stories along with wrap around content to direct young people to related content if they identified with any of the shared stories.
In the research young people in care said that they crave nurturing and love, that they feel the stigma of being in care, and in particular, that they have a strong need to develop and maintain a set of relationships which nurture different aspects of them as an individual.
Young people shared their experiences of trauma and said that there was little support to help them manage the emotional impacts and consequences of coming into and being in care. Perhaps most compellingly, young people spoke of how helpless they feel in the face of a system which is perceived to hold all the power.
VOYCE has a bold and ambitious plan to act as a megaphone to the government and the care system about the things that matter most to children and young people. It’s essential that young people have an active role in influencing the care system and, given that care is delivered via government, the conduit for that communication should be an independent organisation like VOYCE who can represent their best interests.
“Fundamentally, we want care-experienced children and young people to know there is a community which connects them, and promotes their individual and collective voice so that they can influence the care system to meet their needs and realise their aspirations.
The digital platform will work to accomplish this by ensuring children and young people feel welcome and connected, with a safe, secure, informative and non-judgmental environment for them to participate in, representative of the vision and principles of the service.
We want the secondary audience (politicians, policy makers, decision makers, the public and service providers) to view the service as credible and authoritative in speaking on behalf of children and young people in care.”
- VOYCE Whakarongo Mai