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Digital skills

The Social Switch Project piloted in Salford

Three young women work together on a project on a laptop.

Four schools in Salford – Salford City Academy, Irlam and Cadishead Academy, The Albion Academy and, Buile Hill Academy – have joined a pilot of The Social Switch Project.

The Social Switch Project is a multi-layered social media education programme that aims to empower and educate frontline practitioners in online behaviour and support young people to live pro-social and harm free lives.

Funded by Greater Manchester’s Violence Reduction Unit (VRU), the pilot will look to empower and educate a range of stakeholders around social media that will link into schools, early help, and the primary-secondary transition. The programme will be delivered both online and face-to-face, using social media as a starting point for tackling the broader issues surrounding identity and belonging, relationships, behavioural risks, and future opportunities in young peoples’ lives.

The programme of activities includes delivery of social media training for frontline practitioners, 14–16-year-old ‘champion’ training and, training for year seven students and their parents, co-facilitated by older children champions and frontline practitioners.

Initially funded by Google.org and then the Mayor of London’s VRU, the project is co-delivered by social business Catch22 and youth violence charity Redthread:

  • 1,100 frontline professionals, including teachers, youth workers and police officers, and 70 young people have completed training in London.
  • 97% reported an increased understanding of social media and how young people engage with it.
  • 84% reported an increased understanding of the safeguarding risks associated with social media usage.

Research released by The Social Switch Project today, “Online harms experienced by children and young people: acceptable use and regulation“, calls for more resources to be dedicated to addressing the ever-growing risks and opportunities online, and ensuring young people are empowered to champion the content of training and how it is delivered.

Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester Bev Hughes said: 

“The Social Switch Project will have a significant impact on young people in Salford as they will be better able to identify risks online and receive appropriate guidance from frontline professionals.

“The project proved to be a huge success in London, and we are looking forward to building on this work in Greater Manchester.

“The Social Switch Project is another example of how we are committed to reducing violence across the city-region.”

Councillor Jim Cammell, Lead Member for Children and Young People at Salford City Council said: 

“The internet is an incredibly powerful resource and can open up all kinds of opportunities for everyone, but it also has its dangers. Anything that helps young people distinguish between the two and stay safe online is welcome in Salford.”

Kristina Andrulyte, The Social Switch Project’s Training and Curriculum Manager said: 

“We are thrilled to work with the Violence Reduction Unit to deliver our training in schools across Salford. These are powerful places to promote meaningful debate about online behaviour; to empower young people to minimise risk, while grasping the positive opportunities which are available in our digital worlds.”

The success of the pilot will be measured, and learnings will be shared across Greater Manchester.