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On 4 March 2015, British Deputy High Commissioner Mary Shockledge launched a UK-funded series of workshops to tackle the issue of street children in Uganda. The workshops were organised by RETRAK, an organisation with offices in both Uganda and the UK, which helps vulnerable children to get off the streets and improve their lives. Through the workshops, RETRAK delivered training to officers of the Uganda Police and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), empowering them to deal with the issue of street children sensitively and in accordance with relevant Ugandan laws.
This project aims to build the capacity and improve the approach of the above authorities as frontline managers of street children and child offenders. Amongst other outcomes, is envisaged that this will result in better, more timely access to justice for street children.
This workshop was the latest event in a programme of assistance that the UK has developed with RETRAK, including through the Department for International Development (DFID). DFID helped to raise £375,432 for RETRAK through its ‘aid match’ scheme in 2012, and also donated over £49,000 in 2014. The key partnership between RETRAK and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) is another crucial element in this programme of assistance, and the current workshops build on previous work done by the GMP in Uganda. For over four years, the GMP has held fundraising events in the UK and organised volunteer visits by police officers to the East African countries in which RETRAK works, to help with projects and carry out training.
In November 2014, the British High Commission in Kampala, RETRAK Uganda, Manchester Police and other experts joined forces to identify solutions at a round-table discussion hosted by the Acting British High Commissioner, Mary Shockledge at the High Commissioner’s Residence in Kampala. The discussion explored how social protection agencies and the police can collaborate to reduce the number of children living on the street. The guest of honour at the workshop was Sir Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, the UK’s third largest police force. .
Earlier in 2014, on 17 July, British High Commissioner HE Alison Blackburne visited a RETRAK Uganda street children’s drop-in facility in the Mengo area of Kampala and handed over a donation of over 2,000,000 UGX (more than £500) to RETRAK from the staff of the British High Commission to Ms Florence Soyekwo, Retrak acting Country Director. Together with the Deputy High Commissioner and other High Commission officials, the High Commissioner saw at first hand the work that RETRAK is doing with street children in Uganda. The High Commissioner also took the opportunity to talk to street children in the centre.
The money handed over to RETRASK during the High Commissioner’s visit in July had been donated by members of staff at the British High Commission, at events including a Sport Relief Mile run and walk which they organised in March 2014 . Sport Relief is an annual event organised by Comic Relief, a UK charity that brings together the worlds of sport and entertainment, to raise money for vulnerable children both in the UK and around the world. Sport Relief and Comic Relief have supported a number of initiatives in Uganda over the last 12 years, and provided funding to RETRAK. British High Commission staff also raised money by organising a raffle and sale at the end of the run, and a quiz later in the year.