Thursday, 5 March 2015

Phone app to help young people to take control of their relationships

Young people who are being controlled or manipulated by their partner can get advice and support from a new smartphone app, stiritapp.

The app and webpage, http://stiritup.eu/, use stories and quizzes to encourage young people to think about positive ways to work their way through difficult relationships, as well as offering support and advice.

The app is available to download free for Android at: http://stiritup.eu/app-and-resources/

Young people from Lancashire Youth Council and groups of young people from Norway, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Italy have worked with researchers to develop the app and websites. All of the stories and quizzes used are based on research with other young people.

The Lancashire Youth Council is supported by Lancashire County Council's Young People's Service.

The young people also helped to design questionnaires that were completed by 4,500 teenagers from across Europe, as well as England, to make sure the information used is relevant.

This pioneering work was recently showcased at a Safeguarding Teenage Intimate Relationships (STIR), international convention in London recently, attended by seven members of the Lancashire Youth Council.

It was presented by 16 year-old Emily Holt, and other members of the Lancashire Youth Council who worked on both the app and the webpage. Emily said: "This project has been a brilliant experience. I am proud to have been able to work with such an amazing group and come up with such a life-changing app. We've had some very positive feedback from everyone who's seen it. They're telling us that it's a great app, which can help so many people who end up in a controlling relationship to get advice, help and reassurance."

The launch of the website and app coincides with the publication of research that reveals that more than four in ten teenage schoolgirls in England reported experiencing sexual coercion, including rape. Many 13-17 year-olds had also suffered physical attacks, intimidation or emotional coercion from boyfriends.

The research that has informed the Stir It Up project in England was carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Central Lancashire and University of Bristol - led by NSPCC Senior Research Fellow, Dr Christine Barter.

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