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Leicestershire, UK
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Children in care log on to new website

14 May 2013

Leicestershire's children in care are just one click away from support, thanks to a brand new website they've helped to create.

The Beacon is a one-stop shop for those in care and care leavers and is designed to improve the information available about support and rights.

Featuring a 'virtual school' filled with useful links, it aims to help young people achieve and fulfil their potential, boost their safety and make it easier for them to influence services.

The interactive website - being launched by Leicestershire County Council - also enables young people to discuss issues, ask questions, have a say about their care, play games, share music, be creative and recommend books.

Twenty-one members of the authority's 'children in care council' linked up with Loughborough University students to design, name and road-test The Beacon and after 12 months work, the simple-to-use resource will be launched next Tuesday (14th).

Tutors at the university turned the project into a module for second year graphic design students who held a series of workshops with the young people.

Seventeen-year-old Priya from Wigston, who helped to develop the website, said: "I really enjoyed working on the website, the students were great and made our ideas a reality.

"The Beacon will really benefit children in care because it will be a way for us to be informed of anything that's happening, but most importantly our rights and who to contact when we have a problem."

Professor Morag Bell, ProVice-Chancellor for Teaching from Loughborough University, said: “As a university with the Buttle UK Quality Mark, we strive to make university accessible for care experienced students.

"Loughborough University is delighted with this partnership with Leicestershire County Council as it offers an opportunity to encourage young people to engage with their local university and to aim higher in their education. It has also been invaluable in providing a professional experience to our graphic design students in consulting real clients and preparing a competitive design brief.”

The Beacon - www.thebeaconleics.com - is aimed at children in care and care leavers aged over seven, features a private log-in area for children in care as well as a public area for news and information, has cost £8,500 to create and can be used on pcs, tablets and mobile phones.

Loughborough University provides information for care leavers at: www.lboro.ac.uk/care-leaversLeicestershire

County Council supports 450 children in care and 250 care leavers through a combination of one-to-one tuition, mentoring, youth work and social work support. It also encourages and supports them to raise aspirations and strives to get the best outcomes for the children and young people.

As their corporate parents, the council works hard to ensure that they don't miss out and enriches lives by providing young people with a range of opportunities including work experience, apprenticeships and access to computers.

Photo Opportunity:

Reporters and photographers are invited to the launch event taking place at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 14th May, at Loughborough University Students' Union (entry is through the main entrance on Epinal Way).

A number of the children in care who were involved in developing The Beacon will be at the event which includes live musical performances by the young people and an opportunity to try the website for the first time.