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UNIQUE FOSTER CARE WEBSITE LAUNCHED BY LINCS ALSO SITE FOR CARERS OF PEOPLE WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS

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A new website for carers of people with a mental illness is now online in Lincolnshire. The site, called Mental Hea...
A new website for carers of people with a mental illness is now online in Lincolnshire. The site, called Mental Health 'Partners in Care', offers valuable information, support and access to services.
It aims to help people in their caring role by detailing services available in Lincolnshire, the new carer's assessment, and other local groups who can help. The project also links to other sites of interest, including policy issues and information from the government and advice available from national voluntary organisations.
The new information website is on Lincolnshire CC's Linnet system, which is available in all libraries and various outlets across the county.
The site has been created by Lincolnshire CC mental health services, working in conjunction with Jean Trahearn, communications manager with education and cultural services. It is part of the redevelopment of Lincolnshire CC's web service.
'This is the beginning of a new information site and helpful contact point for carers who often feel very isolated and lack good information,' said Pam Railton, Practice Development Manager for Mental Health Services. 'We intend to move the website forward in the future to incorporate information about the development of services and how carers can get more involved.'
Web users should go to the sitethen click on advice, then carers, then mental health services 'Partners in Care'.
FOSTER CARE WEBSITE LAUNCH IN LINCOLNSHIRE
Lincolnshire social services have launched a unique interactive website in the county.
Part of the new site offers an e-community to foster carers and young people in public care while the other provides information to the general public. Web users can access a public library area where they can download information packs and find out more about adoption and fostering processes.
There are also useful facts and figures for fostering and adoption in Lincolnshire, as well as information about children who are still waiting to be placed with a family. Audiotapes on a questions and answers page relay the experiences of foster carers, their own children and young people who have been fostered.
Lincolnshire is believed to be the first local authority in the United Kingdom to launch a multi-media adoption and fostering website with an xtranet.
The project was developed with the help of Advice Lincs, a voluntary organisation with considerable experience of developing access to information and advice to anybody who needs it in the county.
?We believe our approach will provide information for the general public in a form that makes it more realistic and based on the true life experiences of real carers and their families, said Martin Belton, service manager for Children Looked After and Project Manager. 'We hope our existing foster carers will benefit from sharing news and ideas with their colleagues on the xtranet part of the website. Fostering can be rather isolating andstressful at times and carers often need to access good support. In a rural county such as Lincolnshire, our approach means that distance is no object.'
The website - which went live in June - was enthusiastically received and well supported by colleagues from the county council, education, health, the voluntary sector and foster carers.
Since the website launch, Lincolnshire social services has presented the project to other local authorities in the region.
'We are delighted with the response to the website launch from our own foster carers,' said county manager Philip Hunt. 'There has also been considerable interest from other local authorities, who I'm sure will be looking closely at the development of the project over the coming months. We are keen to share our experiences with others who may be considering a similar approach to ours. At the end of the day, we are all trying to harness the potential of young people in public care by making available to them the same experiences other children have in their own families.'
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