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24 October 2012 | PR 12/181

Children in care to benefit from University project

Izzy Jeffs

A partnership between The School of the Arts at Loughborough University and Leicestershire County Council is giving a fantastic opportunity for young people in care to collaborate with current graphic design students to develop their own website.

The project, which begins today- 24th October, will see the children in care and the students split in to several teams. Following a brief by the University lecturer in graphic design for society, Simon Downs, they will work together to design a website which will provide an online resource of information and advice for children in care.

The designs created by the teams will be judged by the website development group made up of children in care and members of the council’s corporate parenting team. The top design will be produced to go live at a launch event early next year which will be attended by local dignitaries of Leicestershire.

The County Council website, which will be known as ‘The Beacon’, will enable children in care to stay in touch with the council as well as each other. It will also be a place where they can access information on all aspects of their wellbeing including advice on what to do when leaving care.

The project is the latest in a series of collaborations between Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council and the University encouraging care leavers to go into further education. It is timed for the first day of National Care Leavers week, the purpose of which is to increase awareness among public and politicians alike about the on-going needs of care leavers, and specifically when they first leave care.

Ivan Ould, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for children and young people, said:

"We want this website to be really child-friendly so we are making sure that children and young people are involved in every aspect of its development.

“Featuring a blog, a ‘members only’ area and information on topics such as coming into care, education and leaving care, The Beacon will help children easily find out what things mean, and what they're entitled to.

“This will be a productive and fun session and I'm looking forward to seeing the site take shape."

Kay Bridger of the Student Outreach and Recruitment (SOAR) department who is heavily involved in these projects added:

“We’re excited about this collaboration: it gives young people in care the opportunity to find out about university and aspire to higher education. They will also have the opportunity to look around the University and try out a Sports Science based session with current students.

“Secondly, it is excellent for our undergraduate students to develop their employability skills by working to develop a website in response to the needs of the target group who will use it when the winning design goes live.”

Just 7% of care leavers in the UK currently access Higher Education, compared to 40% of all school leavers. This is something that all higher education establishments want to address.

Loughborough University has already been recognised for its work in this area having been awarded the ‘Buttle UK Quality Mark’ every year since 2007 and being one of the first institutions in the UK to achieve the award. The award recognises the standards of support offered to young people leaving care.

The University has also recently released the ‘Care Leavers’ section in the 2013 University Prospectus. This section highlights the benefits that a care leaver can gain from coming to Loughborough University including financial benefits of up to £7,500 a year and 52 weeks of accommodation.

As well, the University is running the ‘University Summer School’ again in July 2013. This is open to young people in care aged 16 and older. Anyone interested should contact Kay Bridger via email at K.Bridger@lboro.ac.uk or phone 01509 222486.

To see specifically what Loughborough University has to offer care leavers can visit: http://www.lboro.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/care-leavers/

Care leavers who are looking for more general information about going to University can visit: http://www.thewhocarestrust.org.uk/news.php/245/the-he-handbook-v2-now-available-to-download

−ENDS−

For all media enquiries contact:

Hannah Bateson
Public Relations Office
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228658
E: H.R.Bateson@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2011 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the Best Student Experience in England every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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