At Internet Matters we are on a mission to ensure that all children and young people have the support they need to stay safe and well online – including the most vulnerable. Our research shows that young people who are vulnerable offline are more vulnerable online too. They need specific, tailored support in order to enjoy all the benefits of the online world while avoiding the risks.
That’s why we are delighted to have secured funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) to embark on a new project with Greater Manchester Combined Authority focused on care leavers. We know that care leavers are a strong, creative and tenacious group of young people, who have often triumphed over extreme adversity, but like all of us they can sometimes struggle to stay safe online. We want to harness the talents of care leavers, and the professionals who support them, to help overcome this challenge.
Over the next year we will be working with care leavers and professionals across all ten of Manchester’s boroughs to pilot a new, innovative model of support. Our approach will be rooted in co-production.
We will begin by researching the unique challenges faced by care leavers in the region when it comes to digital technology – to find out the issues they experience, and how they think they can be overcome. We will then train up a group of care leavers and professionals to become our ‘Digital Champions’, whose role will be to provide support to the wider pool of care leavers in a friendly and flexible way. We think that Greater Manchester’s young care leavers and professionals know best about how to engage their peers – our role at Internet Matters will be to empower and support them to do so, via continued training, advice and consultation.
This is a new way of working in the media literacy sector, and we are fully prepared to experience some bumps along the way. We will be working closely with an independent evaluator to help us understand what works and what doesn’t. We are committed to sharing the project learnings far and wide, with a view to informing work across the country and potentially scaling up our programme in Manchester. Ultimately we want all care leavers to be able to access high-quality media literacy support, tailored to their needs.
If you would like to learn more about this project please contact the project lead, Simone Vibert, at [email protected].