So who is involved with Street Action and why are they so keen to give their time and energy?
“I’m involved in Street Action because I’ve seen for myself how they are transforming lives on the ground in Africa. They are a lean and warm organisation where every penny makes a difference to the children they work with. Through the work of this innovative 21st century charity, each donation of time or money goes directly to the effort to open up new chances and choices, in the lives of needy young people with a potential to do wonderful things in Africa”.
Beginning his career as a civil rights lawyer, Paul Boateng was elected to parliament as one of the first three black MPs in 1983. During his victory speech he said: “We can never be free in Brent until South Africa is free too.” He then famously declared, “Today Brent South, tomorrow Soweto!” Paul became the UK’s first black government minister in 1997 and in 2001 he was made Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He was promoted to the position of Chief Secretary to the Treasury in May 2002, making history as Britain’s first black cabinet minister. Following his work on the African Commission, in 2005 he was appointed High Commissioner to South Africa for a term of four years. In 2010 he became a member of the House of Lords and has focussed on overseas aid and development, environment, children and young people’s policy. He accepted the position as Street Action’s Patron in 2009.
“I’m involved in Street Action because during my 30 years of living, working and travelling in Africa, my most vivid impressions remain those of street children – both those who have been displaced by war, and those in more peaceful countries whose lives, all the same, stand in stark contrast to those of a small elite who live luxuriously. I have long stopped being outraged by the contrast. Outrage only makes the outraged feel good. I would rather try to help those on the streets, and that is why I support Street Action’s work.”
Stephen was awarded the OBE in 2010, “for services to Africa and higher education”. He was also awarded the title Eminent Scholar in Global Development by the International Studies Association. Formerly an international civil servant with the Commonwealth Secretariat, Stephen helped pioneer modern electoral observation at the Zimbabwean independence elections and has worked throughout Africa on diplomatic and academic assignments. He lived in Zambia from 1980 to 1985, at a time when the ANC had its exile headquarters in Lusaka. He remains active in diplomatic work and is the only academic member of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office ‘Ginger Group’ on Africa. Stephen has been twice been Dean at the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London – where he also holds the Chair in International Relations. Stephen was a trustee between 2010-12 and became Patron in 2012.
Tom Hewitt MBE has been working directly with street children in South Africa for over twenty years. He studied Politics (and Peace and Justice) at the University of San Francisco. Tom and his wife, Bulelwa, founded Umthombo Street Children (formerly Durban Street Team) in Durban, South Africa in 1998. He is the author of Little Outlaws, Dirty Angels (Hodder 1999). Tom is perhaps best known for his leading role in the advocacy campaign to end the forced removals (round-ups) of street children in Durban, a method used to “clean” the streets around conferences and events, a battle that was won in 2010 before the World Cup (FIFA actually featured Tom in a documentary about the World Cup called “Our World Cup”.) Tom was also part of the process of developing new policy around assisting street children with the South African national government. He is a spokesperson around the street children phenomenon both in South Africa and internationally. In 1999 he was commended, in person, for his work by Queen Elizabeth ll and in 2011 Queen Elizabeth ll awarded him with an MBE for services to street children in South Africa. Tom was appointed Street Action’s International Director in 2012. He is based in Durban, South Africa where he lives with his wife and two children.
“I’m involved in Street Action because the issue of street children is terribly neglected and a dreadful indictment of modern society. Having visited all Street Actions projects and met so many street kids, their needs and aspirations are fundamentally no different to those of my own children – a secure home and family, decent education, prospects of a normal life – and above all hope! We have a responsibility to address this issue”
Andrew has a career spanning 30 years in property and business across several sectors. He is currently Director of University College London Estates. Andrew has a passion for Africa and a keen interest in development issues. He joined the board in 2009 and was elected chair in 2012.
“I’m involved in Street Action because I know the time and resources I put in will have a direct impact. I was particularly inspired by meeting Dieudonne and hearing about his personal story – his vision that street children can be leaders in a new generation in Burundi is really ground-breaking. I have 3 daughters and find it distressing to think of any child being left alone on the street.”
David is an independent innovation and change management consultant, formerly Chief Information Officer and eBusiness manager for a multi-national energy company. He joined the board in 2008 and served as chair until January 2012. He is also plays bass guitar and sings with the Grateful Dads.