Improve probation with technology, that is wat Gail McGreevy and Ivor Whitten from PBNI wanted to achieve. That is why they came up with the idea of producing an app. With success, because their app ‘Changing Lives’ won a Digital DNA award for ‘App of the Year’.
The aim of the app is to help people on their journey of desistance from crime. The app contains a journal, in which people can write down their thoughts and feelings and track progress or see patterns is their behavior. There also is a section on addictions and mental health with resources to assist people to overcome addictions and improve their mental health. There is a contact section where people can easily contact counselling services, probation staff, medical staff and others. Within the app there also is a section on information about pre-sentence reports and what can be expected when someone is subject to probation supervision.
To produce an app, only having an idea is not enough. According to McGreevy there was a lot of research involved in advance. “We researched what was already available and thought there was a gap in the market for an app specifically for people on probation. “They set up a working group and did a survey with potential users of the app. “We got lots of feedback from staff and service users and that helped us develop the app.”
In the process of designing the app McGreevy and Whitten were assisted by staff within probation. Staff from communications, psychology, learning and development and operations. “We then tendered for a technical company to translate our ideas into an app. We were lucky to work with a local based company, called ‘Sugar Rush’, who understood our business and helped make the app a reality.”
Winning the award is a great acknowledgement for their hard work. “We are very lucky in probation to have a leader in Cheryl Lamont who encourages creativity and innovation. The award was recognition of that innovation. It has also given us the confidence and inspiration to look at other digital solutions within Probation in Northern Ireland.”
Are you interested in downloading the app? Changing Lives is already available in the App Store (Apple) and in Google Play (Android). Go to this website for more information on the app and where to download it.