Digital storytelling using co-production with vulnerable young people

Heron, Gavin and Steckley, Laura (2018) Digital storytelling using co-production with vulnerable young people. Journal of Social Work. ISSN 1468-0173 (

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Summary: The importance of listening to young people is enshrined in legislative and policy frameworks and is integral to the children’s rights agenda. However, social work has often struggled to give a voice to vulnerable young people, especially when their views conflict with adult perspectives. This project pioneers the use of digital storytelling using a co-productive approach to address an ongoing deficit in the way accommodated young people express their views at key decision making forums. A four-day residential retreat was used as the venue for co-constructing a digital story and collecting data about young people’s experiences of the process. Thematic analysis was used to identify key themes emerging from participants’ accounts of their experiences. Findings: The findings suggest that child care meetings should be re-conceptualized as a process in which young people undertake the role of educator, rather than their current positioning as passive information giver. The shift from a passive provider of information to educator is theorised by linking the concepts of scaffolding and Zone of Proximal Development to co-production. Applications: This study expands current conceptualisations of co-production as an approach to digital storytelling that holds transformative potential for genuine inclusion of children’s voices in decision-making forums. Whilst the study focused on accommodated young people, the findings are relevant to other service user groups. New technology presents exciting opportunities for practitioners and policy makers to involve those most excluded in society, and at a time when key decisions are made about their lives.


Heron, Gavin ORCID logoORCID: and Steckley, Laura ORCID logoORCID:;