By Maya Potter.
This week’s Spotlight News is looking at the incredible work of Railway Children. A charity dedicated to providing protection and opportunity for homeless children across the UK, India and East Africa.
Every year thousands of children run away from home or are forced to leave due to extreme circumstances, such as poverty, abuse and neglect. Over 11 million children live on the streets of India, with most ending up living on train station platforms, and a quarter of a million children are homeless in Kenya alone .
Children facing homelessness is also a problem in the UK, with a child running away from home every five minutes . The events of the past year have also had a profound effect on homelessness within this country, where it is reported that more than 70,000 households have lost their homes since the start of the coronavirus pandemic . Staggeringly over a quarter of a million people, of which half are children, are homeless and in temporary accommodation in the UK .
Reaching children as soon as possible is a crucial part of the charity’s work, before they are exposed to the dangers of street life. Railway Children utilises a three level approach to reach as many children as possible and make sustainable changes.
The initial stage deals with meeting the needs of children currently living on the streets and working out long-term solutions for their individual needs. If it is possible for children to return home, the charity provides support and helps families overcome issues. The next level is working within communities to change the perceptions; help people to understand the reasons behind why children are homeless and highlight how communities can play their part in protecting children within their area. The third stage involves making changes at a government level by focusing the attention of policy makers to the issue of children living on the streets and ensuring that laws are enforced to keep them safe.
Through this work, Railway Children has helped over 300,000 street children over the last 22 years. Despite the global pandemic, the charity has supported almost 16,000 vulnerable children over the past year and plans to reach another 150,000 over the next five years.
With many of the charity’s fundraising events having been postponed last year, there is a busy calendar scheduled for 2021. From marathon running, to cycling challenges and trekking expeditions across the UK and abroad, there are many ways to get involved.
Railway Children are also launching ‘Sleep In’ on Friday 9th April 2021. A Covid-safe event for all the family, where you give up your usual bed for the night and create a temporary camp at home to raise money. Whether you decide to put up a tent in the garden or create a makeshift camp inside, the evening will be filled with entertainment and activities. Den building, online yoga, a drawing masterclass and a special bedtime story are all things that you can look forward to.
Unlike ever before, the past year has taught us the true value of having a safe place to call home. Railway Children are doing such amazing, inspirational work in their goal of achieving ‘a world where no child ever has to live on the streets’.