Barnardo’s to help professionals keep children safe online in new programme funded by Nominet

1st February 2022

Project Backpack will provide ‘in the moment’ quality assured advice to keep young people safe in the face of online risks. 

Barnardo’s, the UK’s largest children’s charity, is to create a new digital service that will give professionals supporting children instant access to relevant knowledge and advice, to help them respond with confidence to the continuously evolving challenges young people face online. Funded by Nominet, and working with Parent Zone, Barnardo’s Project Backpack will combine expert knowledge and data with children’s views and feedback, to transform how young people are supported in their digital lives.  

Project Backpack will be available to parents and professionals later this year and follows research commissioned by Nominet (Keeping Children safe online, 2019) and its inaugural Digital Youth Index which highlighted that despite most young people (94%) feeling safe online, parents and professionals working with young people are worried for their safety and often struggle to support them. This is due to a number of factors including the duplication and large volume of legacy resources available to them; a struggle to identify online risks and lack of confidence to help tackle these; and identifying a need to work more closely with children to co-design solutions, to ensure they are relevant to young people’s experiences. 

For Barnardo’s to research and develop the solution, Nominet, the public benefit company responsible for the UK internet infrastructure, is providing £500k initial funding. This forms part of its wider response to the challenge of keeping young people safe online – including its REACH programme focused on the online safety of young people in care, which Barnardo’s are also part of. 

The first phase of work being delivered between December 2021 and June 2022 will enable Barnardo’s and Parent Zone to: 

  • conduct in depth user research, and to develop the technical infrastructure for Project Backpack 
  • co-design Project Backpack with young people, professionals, parents and carers 
  • prototype and pilot models of delivery with key national stakeholders 

Following a review of this first stage of work and its promise, Nominet has pledged to support scaling of Project Backpack – a wider rollout of the solution alongside evaluation supported by young people. 

Michelle Lee-Izu, Co-CEO, Barnardo’s comments: “The internet gives children amazing opportunities to learn, play and socialise, but unfortunately it also presents significant risks to children’s safety. It’s extremely important that parents, carers and professionals supporting children have the knowledge and confidence to help children stay safe. That’s why we’re so pleased to be working with Nominet and Parent Zone to deliver ‘Project Backpack’, which aims to provide authorities with advice, in real-time, about how to help young people avoid risks online.” 

Eleanor Bradley, MD Registry & Public Benefit at Nominet says: “Finding the right path to helping young people tackle issues online is not easy, and so we’re delighted to see our research and funding pinpoint areas and define approaches that will help benefit those most in need. We know that children who are most vulnerable offline are also more vulnerable online, and that evidence shows the best way to support them is by integrating internet safety into well-established programmes like those of Barnardo’s. We’re looking forward to Project Backpack evolving to tangibly help professionals support young people who are vulnerable to online risks.” 

Vicki Shotbolt, CEO & Founder, Parent Zone adds: Without the right insights we won’t build resilience and digital access won’t deliver opportunity for young people – it will amplify existing risk. Thanks to Nominet’s funding and our collaboration with Barnardo’s, we’re confident that Project Backpack will allow us to reimagine how we provide young people with the support they deserve to make the most of the connected world.” 

Michelle Lee-Izu, Co-CEO, Barnardo’s, concludes: “Children are growing up in a world where being online is a natural part of their identity. In our work to support children and young people we need to understand this world, and keep up with the rapid pace of change, so we can support them where they are. Project Backpack will help us do this.” 

Project Backpack is a personalised and dynamic information service for professionals to help children navigate whatever they encounter in the connected world. Nominet is funding Barnardo’s who will sub-contract Parent Zone. 


Media enquiries 

For further information please email [email protected] or call the Barnardo’s press office on 020 8498 7555.   

About Barnardo’s   

Last year more than 382,000 children, young people, parents and carers were supported by Barnardo’s through more than 791 services and partnerships across the UK, such as young carers, care leavers, foster carers and adoptive parents, training and skills or parenting classes.    

We work to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children and every year we help thousands of families to build a better future. Visit to find out more.   

Registered charity No. 216250 and SC037605.   

Follow Barnardo’s media team on Twitter @BarnardosNews   

About Nominet  

Nominet is driven by a commitment to use technology to improve connectivity, security and inclusivity online. For 25 years, Nominet has run the .UK internet infrastructure, developing an expertise in the Domain Name System (DNS) that now underpins sophisticated threat monitoring, detection, prevention, and analytics that is used by governments to mitigate cyber threats.  Our social impact programme aims to improve the lives of one million people, providing support and opportunities to tackle some of the most important digital issues facing young people in the UK today.  

Nominet press office: Lizzy Bachelor at [email protected] / 07818 509 655. 

About Parent Zone

Parent Zone sits at the heart of modern family life, providing advice, knowledge and support to shape the best possible future for children as they embrace the online world. We support parents to help their children discover the possibilities and opportunities available to them online, and provide teachers and family professionals with resources and training to help them guide and advise families in the digital world. We use our insights and knowledge to bridge the gap between parents and platforms, and work with policy-makers to help ensure the interests of families are at the heart of everything they do. 

Contact the Parent Zone press office at [email protected] and follow us on Twitter @TheParentsZone