Manchester United Foundation is committed to providing educational and community programmes for young people in a safe and accessible environment, and recognises the additional challenges faced during these times with community sessions and school lessons being held online.
Many staff are continuing to support our partner schools with online resources, and our community programmes such as Street Reds evening football provision, female development sessions, and disability and inclusion programmes are being hosted virtually to continue to engage the young people with whom we usually work on a daily basis.
The Foundation is committed to promoting the safe and responsible use of the internet and we are proud to work in affiliation with the NSPCC to support Safer Internet Day 2021. Led by the Foundation’s disability and inclusion team, and supported by the Manchester United safeguarding team, the two children’s organisations joined forces to deliver an online safety workshop to parents of Foundation participants and Manchester United Academy players.
The hour-long workshop aimed to help parents and carers understand how children experience the online world, giving them the resources and tools to help their children explore their favourite apps, games and sites safely.
Matt Pilkington, disability and inclusion coordinator for the Foundation, said: “As a parent myself I have become more aware recently of the importance of online safety. Our children are becoming more independent online due to remote learning, and might be playing more online games with being at home more, but with that comes a freedom, which could expose them to the negative side of the internet.
“A lot of the children we work with through our inclusion programmes at Manchester United Foundation have special educational needs, so may be even more vulnerable online, therefore it is so important for parents to understand the potential risks and how they can keep their children safe.”
Mubashar Khaliq, NSPCC local campaigns manager, said: “This Safer Internet Day, with the support of Manchester United Foundation, we’re encouraging parents to have conversations with their children about staying safe online.
“As we all spend more time at home, children are spending even more time than usual online. While there is a lot of exciting and educational material for them to discover, there can be certain risks, too.
“We’re absolutely delighted to be working with Manchester United Foundation on delivering these vital messages to parents and carers and helping empower them to guide children and young people on their online journey.”
There was positive feedback from parents who attended this week’s virtual session, which included advice on cyberbullying and mental health, and tips on how they can manage their child’s online safety and wellbeing.
David Oldfield, a parent of a participant who attends Ability Counts, the Foundation’s disability football programme, said: “I really enjoyed attending the course – Mubashar was knowledgeable and informative. I would like to think I’m fairly clued up in keeping my children safe online, but going forward we will use items like the Net-Aware app as a family.”
Inma Junco, mother of a player in the Girls’ Regional Talent Club, added: “It was a very good reminder for us parents to stay alert and be involved in our children’s online activity. I found it very helpful to know the signs of online abuse and how to get help.”
Together with O2, NSPCC has created some advice in helping parents have these conversations and tips to keep young people safe. You can find these tips – along with more information and regularly-updated advice on apps, games and websites – at www.net-aware.org.uk.