Street Child United Summit 2015 highlights the need to challenge the stigmatisation of street children

Posted on the 16th October 2015

From the 7 – 11 September, Street Child United welcomed the leaders of our grassroots partner organisations from across the world to the Amnesty Human Rights Action Centre in London for the Street Child United Summit 2015.

The Summit presented a unique opportunity for partners, leaders and experts from up to 20 countries working on the frontline with street-connected children to come together and share key learning, challenges and solutions from their work in country.

SCU 'family' united at Summit 2015
SCU ‘family’ united at Summit 2015

Sofia Almazan, CEO Casa Alianza Mexico said, “From the summit I’ve learned that even organisations in countries far from each other working with vulnerable children face similar challenges. We’re not alone – with meetings and groups like this we can have a strong voice to raise the rights of children.”

Sofia Almazan, CEO Casa Alianza Mexico
Sofia Almazan, CEO Casa Alianza Mexico

Philip Veldhuis, Founder of Favela Street said, “There’s a great spirit within the Street Child United ‘family’ and there’s been a lot of unity at the Summit. Everyone’s been putting together all our experiences so we can work on solutions to create better circumstances for street children.”

Philip Veldhuis, Founder of Favela Street
Philip Veldhuis, Founder of Favela Street

The Summit focused on four key articles from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which we related to the experiences of street children; the right to legal identity, the right to an education, juvenile justice and the right to protection from violence.

In discussing these four key articles there was one underlying theme that drove the abuses of these rights for street children and that was stigma.

Our partners shared that the stigmitization of street children remains a critical barrier to achieving their rights. They reinforced that challenging the stigma surrounding street children is the first step in transforming the way they are treated throughout society. This social phenomenon has been reflected in this report from the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.

Street children face stigma throughout their daily lives, from trying to reintegrate into the school system, or obtaining their legal identity when their homelessness can be recorded and used against them and frequently as the scapegoats of choice when crime is on the rise in any given place. We heard numerous stories of not only Police punishment without trial but also vigilante violence towards street children.

Paul Sunder Singh, CEO of Karunalaya, based in Chennai India said, “Children face all kinds of violence when they are on the streets. To go to the streets children have often faced violence at home – physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuse, which hurts them a lot. When they are on the streets they face more violence. The authorities and society don’t understand these children.”

Paul Sunder Singh, CEO of Karanalaya
Paul Sunder Singh, CEO of Karanalaya

Dieudonne Nahimana, CEO of New Generation Burundi said, “I really don’t think about street-connected children as a problem for the community, but as a potential for developing the community quickly because of their ability and capacity to use their strengths to have an impact.”

Our role as Street Child United is to give a platform to the voices of our partners and the children we all serve. Through this we are sharing learning from the front lines of a global phenomenon that is not being adequately addressed by Governments or societies. We aim to shine an international light on such key issues as stigma and scapegoating and build an army of support for the rights of street children.

Through our partners we know that each of these children has a bright future IF they receive protection, rehabilitation, psychological support and opportunities. Our partners are the experts and they can deliver this, but they need our help and we need your help.

Fred Shortland, Casa Alianza UK said, “Street Child United provides a wonderful platform for partners all around the world to raise the issue of street kids and to get engagement from governments and sponsors to try and change the situation.”

Fred Shortland, CEO Casa Alianza UK
Fred Shortland, CEO Casa Alianza UK
Dieudonné Nahimana, CEO New Generation Burundi
Dieudonné Nahimana, CEO New Generation Burundi

In the coming months we will be working closely with our partners to identify how their participation in the 2016 Street Child Games can help challenge the stigma these children face in the societies where they live. We will continue where we can to give their campaigns the platform they deserve and try to leverage support and opportunities for each organisation.

We cannot do this without your support – if you would like to help us improve the lives of street children you can, join us, volunteer, or give a gift today.

A full-report on the Street Child United 2015 Summit will be available soon.

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