Darren Campbell returns to his old school Ashton on Mersey in Manchester in his role as Ambassador for Aviva

This news broke on Thursday, November 4th, 2010 | For more breaking news visit our news page

Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell today went back to his old school to highlight a new partnership designed to help the “forgotten children” on Manchester’s streets.

Darren was at Ashton on Mersey School, Sale, to promote Aviva Street to School, a partnership between the UK’s leading insurer, Aviva, and charity Railway Children which aims to help the 100,000 children¹ at risk on UK streets every year.

In Manchester alone it is estimated that more than 4,000 children run away from home on one or more occasions before they reach 16².

Railway Children, one of the key UK charities working directly to protect these vulnerable young people, is calling for an immediate government study to accurately measure the scale of the problem.

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.

Darren Campbell said: “It’s great to be back at my old school and I’m really proud to support Aviva’s Street to School programme. I know that, through this partnership, Railway Children will be able to help support more vulnerable children throughout the UK who are living on the streets and maybe aren’t going to school each day.”

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 provides Railway Children with much-needed funds to recruit street workers and support staff. It also helps fund regional refuge projects and put in place education programmes designed to prevent children ending up on the streets in the first place.

Andy McCullough, National Strategy & Policy Officer at Railway Children, said: “Children are living on the streets because they have nowhere else to go and no one left to turn to. For them the streets are often the safest option. Many are never even reported missing. There is no doubt that this is happening right now in Manchester.

“Creating sustainable change for children, who are living alone and at risk on the streets, takes time to achieve. However, if we can act today, we can make a real difference for tomorrow.”

Aviva 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.

Rachel Laurie, UK Corporate Responsibility Manager, Aviva, said: “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, the only UK charity dedicated to working solely with these vulnerable children.”

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.

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