SSSK branches were started in 1998 in both Cambridge and Oxford universities, and a few years later in Bristol, Durham and Edinburgh, as well as in both St Paul’s Boys and Girls schools.
During the past twenty years, many students have been encouraged to confront development issues and to consider the ways in which the systems of world governance need to be changed – and the ways in which the relatively rich and able can work to bring about the necessary changes.
The most immediately tangible result has been that by 2018, more than £250,000 has been sent to help the work of active and effective local NGOs in a variety of countries. Less tangible, but also important, are the cohorts of students who have left university to enter into the career of their choice with an empathy for street children that will stay with them whatever they choose to do in life. Hopefully when they make a decision of major importance, they won’t only think about ‘national interest’ or ‘profit margins’ but about why SSSK was set up, and what could be done to make it unnecessary.
Two specific examples of the impact of involvement with SSSK and of close contact with development issues on students, are Ben and Johnny, the two founders. Ben worked for some six years for Oxfam, mainly in Delhi, and is now working for Save Action Aid in Kenya. Johnny spent time in London working for Christian Aid, and then worked for them in Colombia for three years. He worked on the ‘Future of Aid’ for the Overseas Development Institute following his book which was published in 2009, The trouble with aid: why less means more, discussing aid for Africa. Recently he has been Strategy Director at Save the Children.
In the early years of SSSK, the two branches then operating raised something like £2000 each year to give to the two NGOs then being supported. By 2004-2006, we were able to give an increasing number of NGOs a total of between £9000 and £11000 each year. From 2007 onwards we have been able to increase this to some £20-25,000 each year. The increase was greatly helped by a substantial donation from the Edinburgh Fashion Show in 2007, and from an “In Memoriam” fund for a much loved SSSK member, Ollie Shilling, an active member of the Edinburgh branch, who died of leukaemia in 2009, just before his 21st birthday.
The maximum number of branches has been seven. All have faced challenges in remaining sustainable from one year to the next, as student turnover is inevitable. A strong and enthusiastic committee may not be good at finding and enthusing another group of students to take on running the branch the following year. The RendezVous (blind dates) event has been a trademark of SSSK in many branches while we have been part of or supported several major events.
One was the Edinburgh Fashion Show in 2007 where SSSK was selected as a partner, with the eventual responsibility for distributing a sum of about £20,000. In 2008, SSSK was presented with an award in Kosovo for their special contribution to children’s rights. We have provided both financial and logistical support for the Street Child World Cup which took place in Durban in March 2010, in Rio in 2014 and in Moscow in 2018. We were also chosen by the Oxford RAG for a special grant of £20,000 in 2014.