Care leavers may feel isolated well into adulthood and some have difficulty talking about their childhood, even to close friends and family.
To help care leavers overcome these difficulties, the Care Leavers Association has recently invested £3,000 in the relaunch of Care Leavers Reunited.
CLR works in much the same way as the better-known Friendsreunited, with perhaps more emphasis on privacy in order to minimise unwanted intrusion. For example, unlike Friendsreunited, it is not possible to browse members of an institution unless you register as member of that institution.
Like Facebook, users can keep their profile hidden from anyone they have not accepted as a 'Friend'. Social workers, foster carers and residential workers may also register as in order to keep in touch with people they used to look after as children.
CLR has some 5,000 members in five different countries: UK, Canada, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Zachari Duncalf an Executive Member of the Care Leavers Association said
"We are so excited by the relaunch of CLR. The increasing use of the site made it necessary to improve privacy settings and provide facilities equal to those available on Facebook and My Space. We are now seeing communities of care leavers emerging online, sharing pictures with one another and communicating in ways that we have not been possible before. We hope that the easier access and rising popularity of this site will bring together care leavers from all over the world."
Social networks offer great potential for sharing and supporting, but users should make sure they know how to protect their privacy and security. Care Leavers Reunited is a good example of how social networking tools can be used effectively by groups of people with a common interest and stories to share.