Nigel drawn into children's web
Meet the council boss who has found a new lease of life on the web
Nigel Richardson, director of children and young people's services at Hull City Council
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it superman? No, it's Nigel!
In real life, he's director of children and young people's services at Hull City Council - and the man in charge of a whole range of services which affect the lives of 57,000 children and young people.
But from this month, he has also become a cartoon character on a brand new website for Hull's children and young people called Clued up in Hull.
The website carries a wide range of information which helps children and young people to be healthy, enjoy life, stay safe, make a positive contribution and achieve economic wellbeing.
"From active research among the city's children and young people, they told us that a website would be the best way to connect with them," says Nigel, who is depicted in two separate cartoons, one for the under 12s section of the website and one for the over 12s.
"Children and young people have also been involved in its design – helping us choose the right graphics, language and content to make the website really appealing as well as informative - and something that they really want to use.
"This is part of our commitment to giving children and young people a real voice with a real influence."
What's on the website?
The website caters for ages from five to 19. It features a wide range of information ranging from details of clubs and activities which young people can join, to careers advice and how to prepare for job interviews. There's information for younger children such as what it's like being in hospital, road safety and help with homework.
There's also advice about hard-hitting issues which can impact on the lives of young people, including bullying, parents divorcing, the effects of illegal drugs, violence in the home and teenage pregnancy.
Why do we need friends? I think I might be gay but I'm afraid to tell anyone. What is a normal amount to eat? How do I know when I'm ready to move out of home? Where can I meet other young people with disabilities? These are the types of questions which the website provides answers for, as well as providing numerous links to other trusted sources of further information.
There's also a section where children and young people can email questions to Nigel about services provided for them by the council and its partners.
"It's about opening up a dialogue with each and every one of our 57,000 children and young people," says Nigel.
"They should be able to get answers to any question relating to how the council affects their lives, whether that's how we help disabled children access sports facilities, or how we can prevent children getting bullied at school, or how we make sure all children achieve the best they can at school.
"Answers to a selection of the questions will be uploaded for all to see and written in a way that children can easily relate to and understand.
The story so far...
The website will offer children and young people a trusted and reliable source of information - but it's likely that parents, teachers, other family members and youth support workers will also use its content.
It's hoped other groups including the police, local NHS as well as volunteer and community organisations will have input into its development in the future, when plans may be afoot to develop it further with moderated message boards, homework forums and areas for children's views.
'The launch of the site is really just the start of a project that has captured the thoughts and views of children and young people across the city,' says Cllr Christine Randall, portfolio holder for children's services at Hull City Council.
'The future development of the site will continue to be shaped by them as choices are made about adding a range of fun and interactive features.
"I know it will provide an invaluable resource and I hope that children and young people feel that they can ask Nigel anything."
Setting up the website was a priority within the city's Children and Young People's Plan for Hull 2006-08.
See overleaf for a review of the website by one of its first-ever users. > > >
Thumbs up for web site
This month's front cover star is Simphiwe Swakamisa (called 'Cee' by his friends and teachers), who is a year eight pupil at St Mary's College. Cee was one of a group of children and young people who helped choose the company which designed the website – and now he is one of the first people to try it out.
Here's his verdict:
"Hello it's me (Cee) and I've just finished looking at the website and it is fantastic. I think the site is a good idea because it helps with issues which are on your mind. I think I will use the site in the future because it has so much information which could help me in my work."
What is the thing you like the most about it?
I like the pictures and colour and the way it is easy to find what you want and easy to follow. I think children would find it easy because the topics they want to find out more about are already there on the front page. I also like the way they've kept it simple for the young people's section.
In the future what kind of interactive features or games would you like to see added to the site?
I was thinking of a game for the children's section of a man who does all the unhealthy stuff like taking drugs and smoking and much more. You get different objects which you have to pick up through the game and he takes them and it makes him worse and you see the affects that has on him. Like giving the man alcohol and he gets dizzy and you do that until he passes out.