City event marks a decade fighting for Africa’s vulnerable children

Lisa in Nigeria.
Lisa in Nigeria.

A charity launched by a Lancaster University graduate to protect vulnerable children in Africa is celebrating 10 years of work and campaigning with a day of special events in the city.

Safe Child Africa works to improve the lives of abandoned children in West Africa, some of whom have been accused of witchcraft.

To mark its landmark anniversary, two events will take place in Lancaster this week, as part of the university’s pioneering ‘Campus in the City’ project.

The anniversary event on the evening of Wednesday, April 15, is a chance for people to find out about the children it helps protect and the challenged of working on the ground in complex and volatile regions of Africa.

Safe Child Africa’s director Ian Harvey and Nigerian human and children’s rights lawyer Fanan Bien will give talks during the evening, which runs from 6pm-8pm at the ‘Campus in the City’ headquarters at No5 Cheapside.

Earlier Lisa Atkinson, community fundraiser for the charity, will head an action-packed day of events to celebrate its decade of successful work with vulnerable children.

The work of other charities will also be highlighted through a variety of activities. This will, also take place at the ‘Campus in the City’ base and will run from 10am until 4pm.

Safe Child Africa was established by Lancaster graduate Gary Foxcroft and it was originally called Stepping Stones Nigeria, before changing its name earlier this year to reflect the charity’s broader aims.

It works to protect vulnerable children, including orphans and street children; many who have been accused of witchcraft and then abandoned by their parents. The charity is involved in educational projects, as well as campaigning for the rights of the children.

Lisa Atkinson was the first ‘NGO in Residence’ to be based in Lancaster University’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). The role was set up to help to create more partnerships between academics at the university and charity and voluntary organisations.

She said: “We’re delighted to be involved in ‘Campus in the City’ and to be able to use the event to highlight the vital and innovative work Safe Child Africa is doing in protecting children from a type of abuse that the world knows very little about.

“Safe Child Africa is one of the only international charities tackling this issue and protecting these children. This event is a rare opportunity to hear from those working on the ground to help stop this practice, as well as the challenges we face in doing so.

“The anniversary event will be a chance for people in the city to hear about the work that is going on in Africa every day and to follow the story of a charity that has tremendously strong links with Lancaster and its university.

“The events have been given the title ‘No Child Should Live In Fear’ and that sums it all up really.”

Joe Buglass, Enterprise Officer at FASS, said: “The NGO In Residence scheme has been a big success. The scheme is a great demonstration of the innovation that has become a hallmark of the Enterprise Centre.

“These ‘Campus in the City’ events offer a chance to show people the value of the links between the university and organisations like Safe Child Africa.

“With the support of people in the city and the university campus, we can keep these children out of harm’s way, stand up for their rights and help them get a good education.”

Lancaster University’s 11-week pioneering Campus in the City project, which runs until the end of April, aims to reinforce the university’s links with its local community.

It is designed to take research and activities from across the university campus and put them in an empty retail unit, which was converted for the event by construction Students from Lancaster and Morecambe College.

The ‘pop up’ project is being organised by the FASS Enterprise Centre, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and the BID district.