A leading charity is using a wide range of social networking and multimedia sites – Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, YouTube and iTunes – to provide support and information to parents of disabled children and help them contact each other.
Contact a Family (www.cafamily.org.uk), which runs a parent networking website called Making Contact (www.makingcontact.org), says parents of disabled children often feel isolated because they don’t know anybody in the same situation. But mothers, who are often the primary carers for children with disabilities, are now among the biggest users of social networking sites, it says.
Srabani Sen, Chief Executive of Contact a Family says: “Mums exhausted by night after night of broken sleep and restricted fromleaving the house because of their intensive caring roles are turning to
social networking sites for emotional support and information about their child’s condition.”
The charity has also set up a ‘virtual library’ in the online world Second Life, which has welcomed around 100 visitors since its launch in May. The virtual library is manned every Wednesday from 10am – 4pm when ‘Advisor Somerflek’, the charity’s avatar or virtual persona,is on hand to talk to visitors courtesy of a real-world parent adviser.For those in the know, the office is located at the co-ordinates Aloft Island 19.40.22 .
The charity is by no means the first to set up in Second Life and the virtual world’s owners, Linden Labs, offer special discounts to non-profit bodies (secondlifegrid.net/programs/nonprofit). A notable example is Save the Children who collected money to provide animals for Tibetan peasants by selling virtual Yaks.