A Blog Post by Louise Meincke, Advocacy Director and Natalie Turgut, Advocacy Officer at the Consortium for Street Children and Coordinator of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Street Children Cycle Africa was a charity challenge - a journey by bicycle from London to Cape Town to raise money for street children projects visited along the route. The trip has been a huge success with more than £50,000 raised so far. However, Cycle Africa became more than just a fundraising challenge. Cycle Africa generated unique advocacy opportunities for street children organisations to raise awareness of street children beyond their usual audiences.
In Thika, Kenya at the launch of Railway Children’s Struggling to Survive report Cycle Africa’s presence attracted the media and government representatives. This enabled Railway Children to make a call to action directly to the government to address violence against street children highlighted in the report. In Durban, South Africa, Cycle Africa was escorted into the city by the metropolitan police. This was of great significance; the police are historically one of the main perpetrators of violence against street children, and instead showed public support for them.
Although Cycle Africa was one journey at one point in time, it highlights the importance of partnerships, between organisations and across sectors, in order to have the greatest impact for street children. In a sector where resources are limited, such partnerships are vital. In Sierra Leone, for instance, a national headcount of street children was conducted through the collaboration of two UK-based charities Street Child and StreetInvest, 62 local NGOs and the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs. This headcount is a landmark as it is the first such count of street children ever to be conducted on a national scale, and has provided baseline data from which the government can address the challenges that street children face on a practical level.
The concept of coordination and partnerships is not new. However, it is something identified as lacking in the street children sector: at the request of members, the Consortium for Street Children (CSC) is to launch an Online Resource Centre (ORC) at the beginning of 2013 that will provide a platform for members to share learning and collaborate on projects. The ORC will profile members – where they work and what their projects focus on, allowing for effective coordination and collaboration. One of the first pieces of online collaboration will be to produce a toolkit on working with street girls, an area that has been identified by CSC’s members as a priority area. It is only through taking such an approach that there can be the greatest impact for street children. Indeed, this theme is prevalent throughout the findings and recommendations of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ 2012 study on street children. If street children’s rights are to be realised, coordination and collaboration within the sector is essential.
For more information about Cycle Africa go to: http://www.cycleafrica.org/