25 April 2020

A Liverpool firm has secured funding to develop a digital solution to support young people’s mental health during the Covid-19 crisis.

Chanua Ltd was one of 18 selected from more than 1,600 businesses throughout the UK which applied to receive funding from the NHSX TechForce19 Challenge.

NHSX challenged businesses to develop digital innovations to help vulnerable and isolated people at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Chanua is based at Liverpool Science Park and provides programmes to help young people, including Neuro Champions which uses games and technology to teach young people about how their brains work.

Their latest innovation is Neuro Love, an online platform to help young people in care to manage anxiety and low mood while staying connected socially.

The website enables young people to book one-to-one sessions to chat directly with mentors and therapists and reduce feelings of loneliness.

It also features resources and tips to help youngsters manage their emotional and mental health, from group therapy and creative classes to fitness and relaxation exercises.

The company has been supported by the Innovation Agency, the Academic Health Science Network for the North West Coast which helps businesses with products which improve healthcare.

Chanua has been working with Liverpool Virtual School Head Carolyn Lawler and Liverpool City Council’s Targeted Services for Young People Team on a solution for supporting isolated young people who are living in care or being supported by a child protection plan – and the funding from Techforce19 will accelerate its development.

Chanua Chief Executive Naomi Mwasambili said: “Young people in care are often not provided the support and love they need and deserve. Some staff work tirelessly to provide them with the nurturing they deserve but often this can fall short.

“Pre-lockdown, we approached our collaborators as we felt that there was an imminent situation that needed a solution.

“The TechForce19 fund allows us to develop this further and evaluate it more robustly. We are really happy, we have been working in this area for years and we are used to rapid turnaround and agile working, so the opportunity to create something that can have a positive impact on young people and be part of a rapid innovation process is fantastic.”

Chanua will receive £25,000 plus support from the Innovation Agency to launch the new website.

Naomi added: “This will allow us to deploy across the Liverpool City Region and beyond and monitor how it is being used. We hope that this will allow us to support more people to improve their mental and physical wellbeing. We aim to be part of a world that uses technology to facilitate human connections and learning, not replaces it.”

Lorna Green, Director of Enterprise and Growth at the Innovation Agency, said: “The TechForce19 challenge has harnessed some of the incredible talent we have in our tech sector to help the most vulnerable during these difficult times.

“Neuro Love is a brilliant platform which gives young people the tools they need to look after their mental health and stay connected during isolation.

“Our Commercial Team is delighted to support Chanua Ltd to pilot and deploy this digital solution to the youngsters who need it most in Merseyside.”

Read the full list of funded innovations here

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