Deputy Commissioner Ellie Vesey-Thompson has visited a charity dedicated to supporting young people in Surrey as the organisation launches seminars on internet safety.
The Eikon Charity, which has offices at Fullbrook School in Addlestone, provides long-term advice and care to children and young people who need emotional and wellbeing support.
In recent weeks, parents and carers have been invited to join online seminars that will help them build the confidence to have conversations with children about keeping safe online. A free guide is also available, which has been downloaded by families around the world.
The new initiative marks the latest addition to the charity’s offerings. Eikon, which accepts both self-referrals and referrals from Mindworks – formerly known as Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – works in schools and communities across seven Surrey boroughs.
Youth support practitioners from Eikon are based in five schools as part of the Smart Schools programme, while early intervention co-ordinators are embedded in three boroughs. The charity also trains youth mentors – or Head Smart Wellbeing Ambassadors – to support their peers.
The charity has seen increasing demand from young people suffering with their mental health as a result of the pandemic.
Ellie said: “The safety of our children and young people online is an ever growing concern, and keeping them safe is everyone’s responsibility.
“While the internet and other advances in technology undoubtedly bring many benefits, it also provides means for perpetrators to exploit young people for unthinkable intentions, including online grooming and child sexual abuse.
“I was really pleased to hear from Eikon about their work to support and advise parents and carers on keeping children and young people safe online through their seminars and other resources.
“Anyone can sign up for free to learn more about how to keep young people as safe as possible when they’re online.
“The Commissioner and I, along with our whole team, are dedicated to supporting the county’s children. Last year, the team successfully bid for £1million of Home Office funding, which will be used primarily to educate young people on the harms of violence against women and girls.
“This money will be used to harness the power of young people through their Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) lessons. It will also pay for a separate campaign aimed at creating a cultural shift in the entrenched attitudes that lead to this type of criminality, and to support a number of charities that help survivors of violence.
“I’m really pleased to see that organisations such as Eikon are offering other brilliant resources, such as these parent seminars, that complement these new plans. All of us working together and offering support to children and young people, as well as parents and carers, is key to keeping our young people safe.”
Caroline Blake, Schools Programme Coordinator for Eikon, said: “Supporting Safer Internet Day – which has the theme ‘Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about online life’ – has allowed us as Eikon to raise the profile of how important it is to connect with our children and young people about their online activity.
“In an ever-evolving world, our guide offers easy-to-follow, practical tips on how to support families to learn from each other and create healthy habits and conversations about their online usage.”
For more information on Eikon, visit eikon.org.uk.
You can also access Eikon’s webinars and obtain the free guide by visiting eikon.org.uk/safer-internet-day/