A new, safe social network – designed by and for young adult carers – will be launched today (Tuesday 10 June) by Dundee Carers Centre and Abertay University.
The project has run for almost a year, with staff, volunteers and carers involved with Dundee Carers Centre working with the university’s computing experts.
The UPBEET social media site is thought to be the first of its kind – developing a private, safe version of sites like Facebook, specifically for young adult carers aged 16 to 30.
The site is being launched during the UK-wide Carers Week, which runs from 9-15 June.
Lucinda Godfrey, Manager, Dundee Carers Centre, said: “The past 12 months has been an excellent example of collaboration between the Centre, Abertay University and young adult carers to ensure that our services are delivered in ways that are relevant and accessible.
“Young adult carers are demonstrating a significant contribution to our communities day in day out and this platform will be an additional way that they can be supported in that vital role.”
Dawn Carmichael, project leader from Abertay University, said: “It has been a fantastic project, using technology to help young adult carers address very real problems of isolation and feeling vulnerable.
“Social networks can help connect you to lots of different people, but because they’re so open and have very confusing privacy settings there’s a risk of people’s isolation and vulnerability being made worse.
“By building a safe social network, which is controlled by Dundee Carers Centre, we were able to take the positive aspects of social media bringing people together in a completely safe, supportive way.”
Dundee Carers Centre identified a gap between the support available for young carers and adult carers, and developed a project specifically for this group called UPBEET. UPBEET provides emotional support, group support and breaks from caring.
Following research it was identified that despite being active on social networks young adult carers felt isolated and lacked peer support.
The organisation approached computing experts at Abertay University, who suggested that they could build a private social network where young adult carers could safely interact with each other online – and access crucial support services.
The new social network is completely secure and private, with Dundee Carers Centre having full control of all personal data, unlike the publicly available social network sites.
UPBEET is funded and supported by the Big Lottery Fund.