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Cumbria charity’s film highlights online dangers

Getting the message across: Think First It’s Real! By Carlisle Mencap Highlights the dangers of cyberbullying and online abuse

A FILM aimed at showing vulnerable people and those with learning disabilities how to stay safe when using online platforms including Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram has just been launched.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall awarded Carlisle Mencap a grant from the Community Fund to come up with the short video. Called Think First It’s Real, the film has been written, produced and performed by members of Carlisle Mencap’s award-winning Independence Studio, helped by the Haltwhistle Film Project team which help communities and projects to produce ‘inspirational’ films.

Meeting the film-makers: Crime Commissoner Peter McCall with members of the Independence Studio at Carlisle Mencap

Mr McCall said: “It is fantastic that with support from the Community Fund, Carlisle Mencap is able to produce this film which is crucial in getting the message across that you should stop and think about what you are doing when you are online. It also tells you that if you find yourself in a troubling situation you need to speak to someone you trust immediately.

“With greater use, popularity and access to technology comes the increase in risk of cyberbullying, online grooming and risk of exposure to inappropriate content,” said Mr McCall. “Because of this, it is vital that everyone has the opportunity to access up-to-date resources like this new film.”

Sheila Gregory, CEO at Carlisle Mencap, said the charity was very grateful for the support of the Crime Commissioner. She added: “Think First It’s Real is very pertinent at the moment because during lockdown many people like those with learning disabilities are spending event more time alone, in their bedrooms, on their computers, and with no-one around to ask advice they are even more vulnerable to online exploitation and abuse.”

Carlisle Mencap is a Cumbria-wide charity providing support and services for more than 500 children and adults with learning disabilities and their families. The Independence Studio is based at its Grace Little Centre for children at Kingmoor Park North, Carlisle.

In recent years, the studio has won national awards and acclaim for its short films highlighting issues such as Tell Someone, about mate crime, Is It Ok?, which focuses on the dangers of sexual exploitation, and Take Control, which focused on hate crime.

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