The Railway Children
This charity is an international non-government organisation (NGO) working with 40 partners in India, East Africa and the UK to help street children and young ‘runaways’.  Its unique focus is to intervene as early as possible to try to help them avoid the abuse, exploitation and corruption that they will meet as children living on the streets of the world’s mega cities.  The best opportunity is to reach out to them as they arrive in the railway stations of South Asia and Eastern Europe, or the bus stations of Africa and Latin America, hence the name ‘Railway Children’.

I founded the charity after a somewhat traumatic encounter with a young streetgirl on a Mumbai railway station who was (presumably under adult coercion) whipping herself to elicit sympathy and alms.  Initially I got involved with Amnesty International’s Children’s Rights Network, then became their representative on the newly formed Consortium for Street Children, and did there a risk assessment of being a street child - identifying both causes and consequences.  This identified a gap - the fact that no established NGO focused specifically on early intervention.  The first few days - even hours - are critical, when a child is both easy prey to the first person who seems to offer help and also is most ready to accept help to consider options that are positive for the child’s future.

I retired as Chairman in December 2010, after 15 years, and am now Founder Ambassador of the charity.

For more information, please click on this link to the Railway Children’s website, www.railwaychildren.org.uk

The Consortium for Street Children
Founded in 1993, the Consortium for Street Children (CSC) is an umbrella charity which now has 60 NGO members working in over 100 countries in the world, many through local partners.  Its purpose is to lobby governments to provide systematic support for such children so that they receive their basic rights as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to raise awareness of the scale and vulnerability of these children, and to build the capacity and effectiveness of charities working for street children by encouraging co-operation, joint programmes and the sharing of best practice.

I was Co-Chair of the CSC from 1998 until the end of 2008, and still take an active interest in its activities and meetings.

 

For more information about the CSC and its members, click on this link to their website, www.streetchildren.org.uk

Amnesty International UK Children’s Human Rights Network (CHRN)
I became a member of the AIUK Children’s Rights Network (then called ‘The Working Group for Children’) in 1990, after my encounter with the abused young girl in Mumbai.  I subsequently became Chair of the Network and am currently the (voluntary) Advisor to Amnesty (UK) on children’s rights.  This involves ensuring communication on children’s rights abuse cases to the 8,000 UK members of the Network who will campaign for justice for these children and providing input to future Amnesty national and international campaigns on aspects of relevance to children.

I am with other national sections’ children’s rights groups lobbying the International Secretariat to give children’s rights greater priority in the 2011-16 strategic plan, following Amnesty UK’s endorsement of my resolution at the 2009 AGM in Swansea. The 2012 AGM passed unanimously a resolution calling for research into abuses against street children in Brazil for a campaign prior to the Football World Cup 2014 and Olympics 2016.

To view the AIUK Children’s Rights Network website (campaign cases, news, resources and events) or to join the Children’s Human Rights Network, please click on this link, www.amnesty.org.uk/chrn.

Children’s Work in the Methodist Church
I have been a youth & children’s leader in local Methodist churches for over 50 years, and am currently leading the small Sunday Club at Nantwich Methodist Church Centre every Sunday morning, and am involved in various other regular events for children at the church - a Saturday morning club for children aged 4-11, a monthly Sunday afternoon ‘Praise & Fun’ meeting for young children and a monthly Pizza & DVD evening for young people of secondary school age. 

I am also a member of the Methodist Church Chester & Stoke District Child Safeguarding Group and one of the Safeguarding Trainers for churches in the District.  I am one of four consultants on the issue that any church worker in the District can contact should they have a situation on which advice is desirable or necessary.

I was a trustee of the Methodist Relief & Development Fund from 1996-2000 - for further information about its programmes, click this link to its website, www.mrdf.org.uk.

Speaker engagements and events
I give illustrated talks on the Railway Children to churches, schools, clubs etc., and illustrated talks on children’s rights and street children to school and university Amnesty groups and Key Stage 3 pupils as part of the Citizenship syllabus.  To request a talk or presence at an event, e-mail Maidmentrail@aol.com.  For other than school or university talks I request a donation to Railway Children in lieu of any fee or expenses.