Stockport Express Column – May 2016

I was really pleased to open the new offices of a wonderful charity based locally which works with street children in Africa and Brazil.

It felt particularly timely to visit Retrak in Cheadle Hulme as the plight of vulnerable unaccompanied refugee children has been in the headlines recently.

Last year Retrak helped over 800 street children return safely to family and community settings.

As the chair of the All Party Group on Street Children, I was interested to hear how the journey begins for a child who ends up on the streets. Retrak’s research shows poverty is one of the key triggers.

It is hard to imagine how children who start out in life with such positive, nurturing and beautiful names such as “Gift” and “Precious” end up on the streets vulnerable to violence, abuse, sexual exploitation and hunger.

Millions of children across the world have no legal identity so they cannot access education, welfare, health services or ever legally work. We must ensure that every child has a legal identity. The life of a street child is short and brutal and these are also the children that get trafficked thousands of miles to Europe to endure the horrors of systematic rape and abuse.

Retrak reaches out to children who have no one else to turn to and helps them rebuild their lives and reintegrate back into their families and communities or new families. Other support Retrak offers includes overnight shelter, education and medical services. This help is vital to give children the chance of a decent life in their own communities.

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