Telco Veteran Urges Industry To Back Internet Safeguarding Charity
An epic festive display aims to bring the internet community together in highlighting the dangers children face online, in conjunction with the Breck Foundation.
After being inspired by grand Christmas light displays in New York’s suburbs, dad-of-two Jim Innes took it as a challenge when his daughter said: “I bet you couldn’t do that”.
Three years later, Innes is known throughout his neighborhood in Surrey for his spectacular Christmas show, now an annual tradition.
As a veteran of the hosting and telco industry, Innes has dedicated the festive show to The Breck Foundation and is urging colleagues in the telecoms space to get involved and support the charity too, which focuses on protecting children online – whether they are using it for gaming, communicating on social media, using apps or taking part in any other internet-based activity.
The Christmas lights event, named Twinkle Twinkle Little House, has been previously supported by a range of companies. This year the focus is on the Breck Foundation, after a local telco company felt that it was an initiative they really needed to support.
“At ICUK, we’re a bunch of geeks, everything this light show stands for we wanted to be part of. With one of the main benefactors being the Breck Foundation, it was a no brainer,” said Paul Barnett, Director of ICUK and CIX.
But Innes wants more internet and telecoms companies to get involved and spread the word of the Breck Foundation and their mission.
Innes believes all members of the internet community have a responsibility to ensure the online safety of the younger generation.
The Breck Foundation
The foundation was founded by Lorin LaFave after the loss of her 14-year old son, Breck Bednar, in 2014, who was groomed through online gaming. The charity is working to ensure that no child is harmed through grooming and exploitation while enjoying their time on the internet.
Breck’s killer ran an online server where Breck and several of his friends played games online. It was this forum that became a platform for grooming.
As part of the internet community, Innes is using Twinkle Twinkle Little House to spread the word of the Breck Foundation and encourage industry-wide, collective support for the cause; helping to create a better and safer internet for all.
The Breck Foundation does this through a range of activities, including work within schools, such as talks to students and training sessions for staff, as well as extensive campaigning whereby Breck’s parents have met with the UK’s Home Secretary, delivered a letter with The PSHE Association to No.10, and worked with the NSPCC.
The foundation has also worked with the BBC to create a short documentary-drama exploring the last year of Breck’s life, tackling issues around online safety and grooming and targeted towards students who, like Breck, may also spend a lot of time online due to a love of computers, the internet, and gaming.
The 2019 Twinkle Twinkle Little House show
The light show drew in a crowd of over 1,200 on its busiest night in 2018, with Innes promising this year will be bigger and better.
“The show through to 2018 was completely subsidized by me. I bought everything that went into it, other than a few building materials from my neighbor whose half of the house we also use,” he said.
All money raised is donated to four charities: the Breck Foundation, the Brigitte Trust, the tech club at a local school and a local events charity. Twinkle Twinkle Little House raised £3,000 last year.
This year’s show will be 15 minutes long, custom-mixed, and carries some fun Christmas classics, and a few twists.
Opening on Dec 7, Twinkle Twinkle Little House will run until Dec 31, with one showing per night, and at least two special event nights.
Current sponsors and highlights:
- Pyrojunkies - sponsoring the provision of flame projectors, flame walls, firing hardware and pyro control systems
- Bertam Scaffolding - providing the scaffolding
- Wells Fireworks - providing all our pyro meeds
- Xtreme Sequences - a US-based company, have worked with us intensively this year to produce, on their own admission "the best sequence we have ever done".
- Fusion Event Services - a local firm who provides the bigger special effects, and all-round tech support for the “awesome” event nights.
- Bluebell Electrical - a local firm providing electrical support and certs, who are also covering the PLI costs.