New partnership to help the UK'S "forgotten" children

Article date: 16 September 2010

A leading charity is calling for immediate government action as part of a new partnership announced today.

Railway Children bosses believe there are more than 100,000 “forgotten” children ¹ at risk on our streets but no government study has ever been conducted to accurately measure the scale of the problem.

The call for action from the charity comes as Railway Children officially announces a new partnership with Aviva to become the UK charity for its Street to School programme which is designed to get these vulnerable children off the streets.

The new partnership is also lobbying for long-term sustainable change by starting a petition calling on the Government to commit resource to protect existing services and develop new ones so that all children that run away can be kept safe. Organisers want 100,000 people to sign the petition.

Aviva Street to School is a global programme designed to raise awareness and support for children living on the streets in order to get them back into everyday life. The UK programme, launched today, will provide Railway Children with much-needed funds to recruit street workers and support staff. It will also help fund regional refuge projects and put in place education programmes designed to prevent children ending up on the streets in the first place.

Terina Keene, Railway Children’s chief executive, said: “It’s a chilling fact that this government has no idea how many children are at risk on our streets right now – it’s like Victorian Britain out there.

“These children do not want to be found because they are often running away from horrific problems and for them the street is often their ‘safest’ option. Critically, two out of three runaway children when interviewed said they didn’t think they had ever been reported missing². The first step is to understand the scale of the problem, the second step is to do something about it.”

As part of the launch campaign, Aviva has also teamed up with The Big Issue to produce a special one-off version of the magazine highlighting the issue of children living on UK streets. 50,000 copies of The Little Issue? will be distributed free inside The Big Issue from September 27.

The company has pledged to give the programme its full support as part of a five year global commitment to make a positive difference to 500,000 children, involving staff, customers and business partners.

Gary Price, marketing director, Aviva, said: “Aviva Street to School represents a major global commitment from us across 28 countries and today marks the official launch of the UK programme.

“Our overall goal is to develop safety nets for these children in order to get them back into everyday life, school or training programmes. In order to achieve this we have partnered with Railway Children, one of the key UK charities working directly to protect these vulnerable young people.”

Aviva has a long track record of community investment and last year invested £3.8m in the UK and delivered over 53,000 volunteering hours.

To find out more about Aviva’s Street to School programme or sign the online petition, visit www.aviva-street-to-school.co.uk.

If you’d like to find out more about Railway Children, visit www.railwaychildren.org.uk/aviva

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Media contacts:

Kate Fairclough, kate.fairclough@hillandknowlton.com, 0207 413 3510
Steve Bradley, steve.bradley@hillandknowlton.com, 0207 413 3179

¹Source: 'Still Running' – The Children’s Society 2005

² Source: ‘Living at the Edge Study’ – The Children’s Society 2005

Notes to Editors

About Aviva Street to School

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through Aviva Street to School to educate children on the risks of running away and helping vulnerable children living on UK streets back into everyday life.

Railway Children is one of the key UK charities working directly with these highly vulnerable young people. For them, the street is often their only option. Fleeing from their homes, they are leaving an environment of neglect, abuse, violence, alcohol and drugs to a world where the everyday dangers are often even greater.

Aviva Street to School believes these children should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Find out more: www.aviva.co.uk/street-to-school

About Aviva’s corporate responsibility

Aviva takes corporate responsibility seriously. In 2009, we invested £3.8m into the community, which included 4,328 Aviva UK volunteers giving over 53,000 hours for good causes.

In partnership with the Citizenship Foundation we have developed “Paying For It”, a programme which, with the help of trained Aviva volunteers, visits schools to deliver economic and financial awareness education, as part of the citizenship curriculum. Aviva developed “Starting Blocks” to support children in their transition from care into the workplace. The Government used this as the blueprint for the national Care to Work programme.

The Dow Jones Sustainability World Index has ranked Aviva in the top 10 percent of socially responsible companies globally, and Aviva is also recognised by the FTSE4Good Index.  We are sponsors of Climate Week 2011.

Read our corporate responsibility report: www.aviva.com/cr

About Aviva

  • · Aviva is the world’s sixth largest* insurance group, serving 53 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific
    · Aviva's main business activities are long-term savings, fund management and general insurance, with worldwide total sales of £45.1 billion and funds under management of £379 billion at 31 December 2009
    · We are the largest insurance services provider in the UK with 19.2 million customers and one of the leading providers of life and pensions products in Europe
    · The Aviva media centre at www.aviva.com/media includes images, company and product information and a news release archive
    · Follow us on twitter: www.twitter.com/avivaplc

*based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2009

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