PEOPLE who are bed-bound, seriously disabled or simply in need of some new friends will soon be able to escape the outside world and spend time together in a virtual one.
Havant teenager Lewis Hine, the youngster behind the newly-branded A World With Friends, is looking for funding to create a virtual world where people thousands of miles apart can connect with one another and make new friends.
To do this, Lewis, 18, is hoping to raise more than £170,000.
The virtual world, which has already attracted interest from major companies, would give those inside A World With Friends the chance to watch films together, attend red carpet movie premieres and more.
It’s this plan to connect people across the globe that inspired Lewis to rebrand what was previously known as Friend Finder – launching the new look at his annual prom in Portsmouth Guildhall, attended by hundreds of people from across the UK.
Lewis said: ‘We’re looking to expand on a global scale so will soon be starting to organise events like the prom over in New York and things like that.
‘People want to connect from all over the world and I want to give them the chance to do that.
‘We are trying to make a virtual world for the children that have come to these proms and want to keep in touch with the new friends they have made.
‘They’ll have their own avatar and can go around this virtual world talking to their friends.’
One of those who attended the prom evening was seven-year-old Archie Kambanis, from Northampton with his mum Kay.
He said: ‘Ever since I was told about it I’ve been really excited.
‘I love going on adventures with my mum.’
Lewis’ mother, Emma Hine, was beaming with pride throughout the prom evening, which was held at the end of last month.
She said: ‘Lewis has connected young people from across the world, and that is simply astounding.
‘We have these events, which are great, but there are still young people who are too ill to make it; that's where the idea for a virtual world came from.
‘To give these youngsters the chance to go backstage at a music concert with their friends, or have a movie night together, would be very special.’