A TECHNOLOGY training room has been opened for foster carers and adopters to learn the skills they need to safeguard the young people in their care.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s has created the facility in the North-East Fostering and Adoption office, in Lumley Court, Chester-le-Street.

The equipment and training will allow foster carers and adopters to work with confidence around social media applications and websites, such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

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It will help Barnardo’s staff demonstrate the risks and issues around the internet effectively and get the safeguarding message across to some of the most vulnerable young people in the region.

Alison Rowland, assistant head of Business Family Placement East, said: “All children can be at risk of sexual exploitation when going online and interacting with strangers, even if they have a supportive home environment.

“What can start as an innocent and harmless chat with a ‘friend’, can very quickly develop into a dangerous relationship with devastating consequences.

“That’s why it’s crucial carers can make the children they foster or adopt aware of the dangers online and explain how to keep themselves safe.”

The Morrisons Foundation, which donates funds generated by the sale of single-use carrier bags, donated £25,683 to buy the IT equipment.

The new facility was opened by Alison Rowland last week with Holly Dobson from Durham Police ERASE team, carers and staff.

Simon Finch from SimFin UK outlined how best adults can embrace technology and work with young people to give them an awareness around online safety and creating a positive digital footprint.

Ms Rowland said: “It is great to have this resource available. I’d like to thank the Morrisons Foundation for supporting us to help us keep some very vulnerable young people safe online.”

For more information about fostering or adopting phone 0191-492-9000.

or email ne.familyplacement@barnardos.org.uk

Evidence shows children want their parents to be more tech aware.

A survey for Barnardo’s earlier this year showed 68 per cent of children said that they feel better if their parents can help keep them safe online.

In the same YouGov poll 43 per cent of 11 to 15 year olds said they were worried about strangers contacting them when they went online.

Previous research carried out by Barnardo’s child sexual exploitation (CSE) services showed two thirds of children supported by them had been groomed online before going on to meet the person and then suffered sexual abuse.