The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have this morning visited the Salaam Baalak Trust, an organisation supporting some of the most vulnerable young people living on the streets in Delhi.
The Duke and Duchess first visited the Trust’s Contact Centre near New Delhi Railway Station, where they heard that up to 1200-1500 children arrive into the capital on trains each year and often travelling alone, to escape a range of personal circumstances. As a frontline partner of Childline, Their Royal Highnesses were briefed by the Trust’s outreach workers on how they respond to calls for urgent care, and try to identify vulnerable young children as soon as they arrive in the city, to encourage them to get support as early as possible.
The Trust has a focus on mental health and supports the individual needs of street children which includes physical and medical care, as well as educational, creative and social interaction. Dr Amit Sen, who started the charity’s mental health programme, explained why this support is vital to help children coping with the trauma of life on the streets adapt to life in a nurturing environment.
Their Royal Highnesses were interested to see children’s mental health being treated as a key priority in helping children to seek physical healthcare, shelter, and eventually education. Young people’s mental health is a major focus of TRH charitable work.
The Duke and Duchess then also visited one of Salaam Baalak’s temporary shelter for boys, located close to the train station. They heard how Salaam Baalak Trust always try to reunite children with their families but where that’s not possible they provide permanent care in one of their shelters. Within the shelter, children are provided with mental health support, nutrition, education and vocational training programmes. The couple met young boys who are currently living at the shelter and spent time with them doing some of the regular activities such as reading and drawing.
The couple also had the chance to meet two Salam Baalak City Walk Guides. The Trust is famous for its city walks, guided tours of the Delhi streets by the children who used to live there before being rescued. The tours provide revenue for the Trust, but more importantly allow the young people to tell their stories of hardship and survival as well as helping them with their English and communication skills.
Salaam Baalak Trust was set up in 1998 with the proceeds from the film Salaam Bombay, a film depicting the lives of vulnerable street children. The name Salaam Bombay means ‘salutes the child’. Salaam Baalak Trust runs five children’s shelters (over 500 children) and 13 contact points in and around Delhi, supporting children living and working on the streets.
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