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UEL academic helps launch new app to keep European teenagers safe

Education On The Edge

By Lee Pinkerton 

A new app that was co-designed by a University of East London (UEL) academic to help keep teenagers across Europe safe from neglect and abuse will be released on 21 September.

The Keep Me Safe in Europe (KMSE) e-learning tool is the result of a collaboration between UEL and Anglia Ruskin University. It was designed with the help of young people in UK, Cyprus and Greece who have knowledge and experience of the care system and being an asylum seeker.

The app, which will be available on several platforms including Android, iPhone and Windows, is designed to keep young people moving across the continent safely. Available in multiple languages, it uses a fun ‘game’ format to give young people an understanding of where they can locate help and support.

The game allows the player to navigate their way around a town, dealing with problems that life throws at them from bullying at school to dealing with a family break-up. 

The aim is to guide the character to the right buildings and people where they can find advice and help.

Work on the Keep Me Safe in Europe project began in October 2014, with funding from the European Union. It was led by Dr Darren Sharpe at UEL and Professor Tim Waller, of Anglia Ruskin.

Dr Sharpe, Senior Research Fellow at UEL, said, “Regardless of Brexit, wherever we find young people in Europe they need to be aware of how to locate and access help if they are experiencing problems of neglect or abuse in a new country.

Professor Waller, Professor of Child and Family Studies at Anglia Ruskin, said, “More people are on the move than ever across Europe and this includes thousands of children and young people who are particularly vulnerable. There is currently no uniformed child protection system in place within the EU to keep children and young people safe from harm.

“Wherever they find themselves, they need to be aware of how to locate and access help if they are experiencing problems of neglect or abuse in a new country. This interactive game is designed to be both fun and informative, and the project team has worked with young people to ensure the scenarios within the game are realistic.

“We have equipped three groups of young people to help disseminate and promote the new resources throughout the EU.”

The project was funded by Erasmus Plus, an EU-wide initiative. The app will provide a valuable resource for youth protection specialists across the EU and beyond.  

The interactive launch event takes place in central London and will feature a demonstration of the game, a presentation by young game innovators, innovation labs focused on aspects of the game world and a panel discussion.

Other collaborators on this project include Walsall Council, the European University of Cyprus and the South-East European Research Centre.

The launch takes place at ARU London, 19 Charterhouse Street, EC1N 6RA from 12pm until 4pm Wednesday, 21 September. To attend, book online at kmse.open-lab.com.