Skye, one of Family Fostercare West Midlands' foster children, was recently presented with a brand new iPad Air 2 for winning an internet safety themed competition organised by Guardian Saints and sponsored by BT to celebrate Safer Internet Day.
Guardian Saints was formed in 2014 by two parents and a foster carer who were becoming increasingly concerned about the dangers the online world was presenting to children. The founders have over 25 years’ experience in working for large commercial organisations in roles related to regulatory compliance, IT security and systems, data protection and online safety, and their aim was to put these skills to use to help safeguard children in our perma-connected society. All children are vulnerable to the perils of the internet and social media, but Guardian Saints have focussed their attention on the most vulnerable, namely children in care. They work with individuals and organisations responsible for safeguarding young people in care such as fostering agencies, foster carers and local authority teams, providing a range of services to help deliver robust policy and practice with regard to online safety and data protection. The organisation provides awareness training, practical guidance and support to care givers, and they work with service providers to assist in the development and delivery of policies and practices around online safeguarding. They also seek to lobby organisations such as ISPs and internet giants such as Google and Facebook to provide additional features to help protect this particularly vulnerable group of young people.
As part of their work, and to celebrate Safer Internet Day, Guardian Saints ran a competition where children were required to complete a survey about online safety. As part of the survey children were also asked to supply an idea for a website or app that they felt would be particuarly helpful for children in care. The children's ideas were judged by an illustrious panel which included the foster son of one of the founders of Guardian Saints. The other judges were Peter Oliver - MD Consumer Commercial Marketing and Digital, BT, Steve Pankhurst - Founder of Friends Reunited, and Geoff Owen - Research in Practice. We are told that the judges had an extremely difficult job as many excellent suggestions were received and the marking between the prize winners was very close.
In the end, it was our clever Skye's idea that was picked as the overall winner. Skye's concept was for a website or app specifically for children coming into care to help them know what to expect, with video content produced and provided by a diverse cross-section of looked-after children, acknowledging their place as the experts in what it's like to be a child in care.
Sky's fantastic prize of an iPad Air 2 was fully sponsored by British Telecom, who themselves have an excellent track record of promoting online safety for children. In 2014 BT, in partnership with UNICEF, formed The Right Click : Internet Safety Matters initiative which aims to empower children to use the internet safely and equips parents, guardians, care givers and teachers with the tools to keep children protected online. To date the initiative has reached over 10,000 children and parents/carers and has also trained over 1000 teachers to be able to redeliver workshops in their schools.
Skye was awarded her iPad by FFC Director Granville Orange at a special presentation ceremony held at Family Fostercare's Dudley office. The pictures speak for themselves - Skye was absolutely delighted with her achievement and her very special prize, and everyone at Family Fostercare and especially Skye's foster parents and birth parents could not be more proud of her. We all think your idea sounds fabulous Skye, and most definitely deserving of your fabulous prize! Enjoy your new 'SkyePad' and Keep Safe Online!