Today we kicked off the ‘Inquire’ phase of the Co-Design Sprints. This session was all about building our collective empathy for the challenges faced by young people transitioning from out-of-home-care.
Empathy is the ability to be aware of, understand, and be sensitive to another person’s feelings and thoughts without having had the same experience. Watch a great short video on empathy featuring Dr Brené Brown below.
Co-design Sprint Facilitator, Christian Duell, explained that by using a different part of the human brain, empathy allows us to synthesise complex information in a more creative way, and encourages generosity.
"Empathy helps us to really sit in the problem, so that we can gain a deeper understanding of what's going on for people. It also makes us stretch ourselves, and forces us to become more comfortable with discomfort”, Christian said.
To help us build our empathy muscle, every participant in the room practiced 'Interviewing for Empathy' using the Empathy Map tool below.
The exercise resulted in us 'triangulating' the issue from the perspective of everyone in the room, and prompted us to reflect on what we believe, hear, see, say and do about increasing young people's access to housing, employment or community connection supports.
Participants took a lot away from the exercise, and found it unearthed new insights about the challenges faced by young people.
“Through the exercise, I found myself verbalising beliefs about the problem that I didn’t even know I had. I also heard everyone else's perspective, which was great because not everyone sees things the way I do!", one participant said.
Other participants reflected on the sense of collective frustration and disappointment that emerged from many of the interviews.
"It's evident that everyone here really wants to change things for young people, and feels frustrated that they've been helpless to do that in the past. My hope is that everyone in our group is able to sit with the uncomfortableness, and that by sitting in the problem in this way, we’re able to break out and design better solutions for young people”, a participant said.
It was also really clear that although we are all from different parts of the community and system - from child protection workers to permanent carers - we all share the same aspiration for young people leaving care.
"Young people should be supported, and be given every opportunity to thrive after their 18th birthday, just like our own kids. It's unfair that kids in out-of-home-care often don't even get an 18th birthday party, because system supports end abruptly from that point on", one participant said.
Having now learned how to interview for empathy, participants will interview another stakeholder between now and next week, and will share any further insights with their teams.
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