Because of COVID-19, children and young people living and working on the streets have faced even bigger challenges. Today on the International Day for Street Children, I want to take a moment to reflect on the experiences of homeless children across the world during the past year and how, with your support, we and our partners have kept them on the agenda during the most difficult times.
This year we are being asked to stand with street-connected children all over the world as we acknowledge their strength and resilience during the pandemic. Having worked with homeless children and young people for over 15 years, I am never not in awe of the strength, courage, and resilience they demonstrate on a daily basis. Despite having to fight for survival every day of their lives, in circumstances where those that should protect them actually discriminate against them, they continue to fight for their futures. They never cease to be inspiring.
Children should be in education, not on the streets. With your support, we support hundreds of street-connected children a year in Kenya.
Supporting children through COVID-19
Today we also want to keep focussed on advocating for street-connected children and young people across the world to be able to access essential services. Historically they have been denied access to basic services, such as education and medical support, due to the stigma they face, the lack of resource they have and the infrastructure that is not designed to support them. Over the past 12 months this has become much more challenging. We have seen stigma grow towards homeless populations across the world during the pandemic due to the stereotypes of them being dirty and dangerous. Because of this, during COVID-19 more children and young people are being denied access to healthcare, education and protection.
Through our COVID-19 Support Fund, we stepped in to support our partners in Ghana and Kenya to provide these services to children on the streets. We also helped to advocate for children at local government level. In Kenya our partner, Glad’s House Kenya, led the local task force for street children on behalf of the Local Government. Through this they ensured street-connected children could access government food handouts! In Ghana our partner, Street Girls Aid, made sure that hundreds of families had access to vital support.
Keeping street-connected children on the agenda
While it’s important to highlight these issues today, we can’t let children be forgotten tomorrow. Children and young people on the streets should always be advocated for, to ensure they are kept on international, nation and local agendas and that they are not forgotten in policy and in services delivered by Governments and NGOs. We’ve seen big progress in recent years, and your support meant we and our partners have been a part of the United Nation’s child rights-focussed guidance to countries on creating long-term strategies to support children on the streets.
At the local level, our partners in Kenya have worked to reduce the number of unlawful unethical arrests of homeless children and young people as well as improving conditions and treatment for children in prisons.
It is key that we work collectively to ensure homeless children and young people have their rights realised like any other child and have equal access to education, healthcare, safety and protection. We are delighted that over the course of the pandemic we will have seen two safe spaces open for homeless children and young people, through the Young Mothers Centre in Accra, Ghana and the Safe Space in Mombasa, Kenya. These spaces ensure that homeless children and young people can access all the vital services they need, and we would not be able to provide those spaces without your generous support.
How you can help
Become the latest member of the Chance for Childhood community and join our mission to create a work where no child is forgotten. There are two key actions you can take today:
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£20 could support our work with street-connected children in Kenya and Ghana, helping to secure a positive future for the msot vulnerable children in Africa.
Global Safeguarding Lead