In 2018, Street Child United participant Samantha was chosen to represent England at the Street Child World Cup in Moscow. It was here, that Sam realised that the Street Child World Cup was not just a tournament, and football was far more than just a game.
Captivated by the stories of the other street-connected young people she met throughout the event, Sam became increasingly aware of the adversity and stereotypes at-risk young people were facing in their respective communities and wanted to do something to help.
Sam left school after her GCSE’s with the strong belief ‘Education wasn’t for me.’ Fortunately, she was selected to study with Arsenal FC on a programme that would allow her to coach and play football whilst studying for a BTEC Level 3 in sport. Arsenal identified Sam as a vulnerable young person and connected her with Centrepoint – a youth homeless charity – where she began to take part in their weekly women’s football sessions. Having struggled with mental health, bullying and an attempt by her grandad to take his own life, Centrepoint equipped Sam with the skills to help process her emotions and gradually she began to see her own potential. Sam was chosen for Centrepoint’s Team England football programme, which subsequently led to her being selected for the Street Child World Cup 2018 in Moscow.
Sam states ‘I wasn’t prepared for the emotional side of the tournament.’ Meeting other teams from across the world, she was amazed at the passion and determination in their voices when they discussed the day-to-day challenges they faced. Specifically, Team India, whose stories included being snatched from their parents and trafficked, girls forced into child marriage and not legally existing because they were not registered at birth. These stories had a profound effect on Sam and a desire to help her new friends, coupled with a need to express her emotions, led her to take pen to paper.
Realising the power of creativity – writing and drawing – to provide an outlet for her emotional expression, gave Sam an idea; perhaps it could also help her friends and others cope with their troubles. So began the journey that led to this incredible young leader to compile the voices of street children globally and share them with the world in a remarkable book of poetry and artwork.
‘We Are All somebody’ is a book filled with hope and truth. It is a testament to the resilience, determination and the heart that fills street connected young people worldwide. It is their voice united, not just telling their stories but also reminding the reader that, despite the challenges they may face…We Are All Somebody.