The Big Issue - Changemaker Helen Costa is using VR to help adopted children feel safe

The Big Issue - Changemaker Helen Costa is using VR to help adopted children feel safe

What if you could see the world through a child’s eyes – would you change your behaviour towards them? Helen Costa thinks so. When she co-founded The Cornerstone Partnership, she had one mission: to improve the lives of families touched by the care system.

Social Work News - How VR software can give you the benefit of hindsight

Social Work News - How VR software can give you the benefit of hindsight

In today’s digital age, technology is rapidly transforming the work that we do. For this month’s feature interview, editor Amy Dawson and art director Owen Dye met with Helen Costa…

Come and work at Cornerstone as our VR Service Manager

Job title: VR Service Manager

Working for: The Cornerstone Partnership

Location: London with flexible working

Salary: £50,000

We, Cornerstone Partnership are a social enterprise using VR technology to promote insight and understanding of the impact on vulnerable families that neglect and trauma can have and offers strategies that can promote increased empathy and positive change. We are looking for an innovative experienced social care practitioner to join the team. 

If you are have worked within Social Care in Children’s Services, have a flair for communication with everyone, aware of how commissioning and contract management works in Local Authorities are innovative in your thinking, approach to problem-solving; have a good understanding of the impact Adverse Childhood Experiences can have on children and want to impact positively on families’ lives then this is a great opportunity for you. 

Due to the success of our approach, the team’s work has grown over the last 18 months.  Therefore, we need to increase and strengthen the team by employing a dedicated Social Work professional (VR Service Manager) to work with our growing customer base of Local Authorities; IFA’s; Education partners including universities; and Residential care providers across the UK.  This exciting new post will work collaboratively across the company and our customer base creating long-term, trusted relationships.

What does a VR Service Manager do?

Develop and maintain strong active relationships with our customers, local authorities; IFA’s education sector across the UK.  Connect with personnel using our products across all levels of the organisation, including practitioners, key executives and wider stakeholders.

Enable practitioners across children’s services to utilise Cornerstone’s VR product into their practice to improve family’s lives touched by the care system.  

Gather, analyse, interpret data on products’ use to evaluate Cornerstone VR and produce reports describing best practice – covering where, how, in what contexts VR products is being used and results from this.

Be the first point of contact between the local authorities, IFA and Education sector and the company – negotiating dates for initial, on-going training and equipment distribution. 

Utilise the relationship with customers to identify new business opportunities.  


· Serve as the lead point of contact with our customers ensuring that our products are
embedded in practice and are being used effectively to improve lives. 

· Build and maintain strong, long-lasting relationships dealing with requests on issues as needed.

· Negotiate contracts and close agreements. 

· Ensure the timely and successful delivery of our products according to customer needs and objectives.

· Clearly communicate the progress of monthly/quarterly initiatives to internal and external stakeholders.

·  Working with the sales team develop new business with existing clients and/or identify areas of improvement to increase the reach of our product across the UK.

· Forecast and track key account metrics e.g. quarterly sales results and annual forecasts.

Personal specification

· Qualified practitioner in social work.

· Experiences of working directly with children and families; management of teams; working with senior managers and stakeholders across the sector.

· Ideally experience of commissioning with a local authority environment. 

· Experience of delivering client-focused solutions to meet a diverse range of customers.

· Understanding of public services, and the context in which they operate.

· Commitment to improving families and children’s lives touched by the care system. 

· Demonstrable ability to communicate, present and influence.

· A good understanding of attachment, trauma and its impact

· Proven ability to juggle multiple projects at a time, while maintaining attention to detail.

· Excellent listening, negotiation and presentation abilities.

· Strong verbal and written communication skills.

· Experience of CRM software e.g. Salesforce, Zoho CRM or HubSpot and MS Office particularly MS Excel is desirable.

 Who should apply for this role?

We are keen for a qualified social worker to join our team who has experience of working across the children’s service area; managing social workers and wider professional groups; managing teams; commissioning services and or managing contracts within children’s services and an interest and willingness to learn about using VR technology to work with people.

To apply send your CV and covering letter to

Closing Date: August 24th 2019


Technology and the Future of Children’s Services: How VR, AI and emerging technology can bring us closer to the children we serve

Technology and the Future of Children’s Services: How VR, AI and emerging technology can bring us closer to the children we serve

Cornerstone co-hosted a fringe session at the LGA exploring the possibilities, ethics and practicalities of bringing emerging technology into children’s services and highlighting how VR has been bringing us closer to the children we serve.

Using Virtual Reality to do Life Story Work

There are many established techniques of presenting a child’s Life Story to an adopted child; some children will have a Life Story book. Digital platforms are now being used to safely store memories and photographs and lots of resources are available to help adoptive parents to be the narrator of the child’s story and help them to deal with potentially difficult or upsetting questions.

This week in a workshop with a group of social workers from a regional adoption agency, Cornerstone did some Life Story work using 360 virtual reality experiences of being in utero and seeing the world from a young child’s point of view. Transporting the social workers to the child’s reality using VR helped them to feel how the child might have felt and they were better able to construct narratives and find the words to help their prospective and current adopters with challenging questions.

It was also interesting to see the level of empathy increase for the birth parents in the session as seeing their current situation and then exploring their life story was helpful in putting their behaviour into context. This is especially helpful for adopters in helping their children create links with their past, which has been proven to result in more successful adoptions and less placement breakdowns. Doing the exercise as an RAA also resulted in a lot of knowledge sharing within the group too which they found very useful.

If you are interested in learning more about how Cornerstone uses VR to do Life Story work please do get in touch on

D/sruption - 7 Companies Using Tech To Improve Mental Health

D/sruption -  7 Companies Using Tech To Improve Mental Health

Is your business thinking about mental health?

Mental health is a hugely profitable market. Now that the stigma surrounding mental health issues is gradually lifting, more people are considering the importance of wellbeing. Not only is this an opportunity for businesses to build genuinely useful, lucrative products and services, but it has encouraged companies to look at the wellness of their own employees as a driver for success.

Recognition, however, is not the same as a remedy. If anything, mental health problems are becoming more prominent. By 2030, for example, the World Health Organisation estimates that depression will place the largest single burden on healthcare globally… Here are seven organisations trying to do something about it.

5) The Cornerstone Partnership

The Cornerstone Partnership has developed a number of VR scenarios to help people to understand the mental health of children who have experienced the social care system.

Deploying a whole school approach to trauma awareness using VR

What do teachers, school lunchtime staff, reception, SENCO’s, school nurses all have in common? Yes you have guessed it, working with children. Yet so often only teachers and teaching assistants are offered additional training like trauma awareness. This is a shame as all school staff have contact with children and can benefit from extra support to understand complex child behaviours. Children in the care system or on the edge of care can display very challenging behaviour. These behaviours are often interpreted as naughty and the result of this means that children end up being placed in a pupil referral unit or be permanently excluded. This can severely impact on a child’s future outcomes and for those children who have already experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) it could be devastating.

To ensure that a school has a shared knowledge of trauma and neglect and how this impacts on children’s behaviour in the school setting Cornerstone and Southend Local Authority visited Greenway Primary School last week and ran a 2 day training session on trauma awareness using Cornerstone VR.

There was an evaluation survey conducted before experiencing the VR content and then we will survey the cohort again one month after the VR Trauma Awareness Training to see if there has been a attitudinal shift or any behavioural change at the school. Giving the school staff time to talk, reflect and experience and then have constructive discussion on what they would like to achieve as a school has been a great way to embed the knowledge within the school.

We will follow up this post with some analysis on the data collected by the evaluation in a months time so check in with us then to see what changes have happened in Greenways School. If you are interested in creating more trauma awareness in your organisation get in touch with us on