North East Connected

Hackathon will help young people in foster care

A renowned poet and one of the stars from The Mighty Redcar are speaking at an event which will look at ways in which the lives of care leavers can be improved.

‘The Opening Doors for Care Leavers’ Hackathon at Teesside University on 9 November is a free, public event which will explore the challenges faced by care leavers and try and find solutions to the problems.

Speaking at the event will be Lemn Sissay an author and broadcaster who was the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics.

Also, speaking will be musician and rapper Dylan Cartlidge who was one of the breakout stars of The Mighty Redcar documentary and has now gone on to play and record his music in Europe and America.

Both Lemn and Dylan grew up in foster care and will be sharing their experiences of the care system with guests at the hackathon.

The event will also see participants split into teams to develop ideas which can be turned into actions and potentially used to benefit young people leaving care.

At the end of the day, each team will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges including Andy Preston, mayor of Middlesbrough, and Bill Scott OBE, chief executive of Wilton Engineering, to see which idea can be taken forward.

The event has been organised by staff at Teesside University as part of the University’s Edge initiative which aims to encourage an entrepreneurial culture among its workforce.

One of the organisers, David Dixon, Investment Manager at DigitalCity, said: “When young people leave the care system it can be a deeply unsettling time with profound consequences for their future if it is not managed correctly.

“The experiences of Lemn and Dylan should provide a fascinating insight into what it is like to grow up in care and set the scene perfectly for the hackathon.

“By bringing lots of people with multiple experiences and skillsets together to tackle the problem we’re really confident we can identify some tangible solutions which can be taken forward to improve the lives of these young people.”

Dr Daisy Best, a principal lecturer in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities & Law, added: “We’re really excited about this event and believe it has the potential to make a significant impact.

“We hope as many people as possible, from all walks of life, can get involved and we’re particularly keen to involve people who have experience of working with young people including teachers, social workers as well as foster carers and people who have been in foster care.”

Rachel Morris, a Principal Lecturer in the School of Health & Life Sciences said: “To be able to get everyone working together in one room with a common purpose is fantastic.  I’m really looking forward to hearing ideas that can make a significant difference.”

The hackathon takes place at the Curve at Teesside University on Saturday, 9 November from 9am to 10pm. Organisers are keen for people from all walks of life to get involved, but in particular those with care experience. This is a free event, refreshments will be provided – but people must register to attend.

To register visit

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