First of all, I want to say thank you to all for making it here to support this maiden event, our inauguration.
My name is Elsie Owusu-Kumi. Founder of STACAN. So how did STACAN come about? To talk about the journey, I completed University of Ghana in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and then undertook my National Service at the Ghana Institute of Journalism. Afterwards I moved to the UK where I completed further studies.
Whilst in the UK, I gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Youth and Community Development Studies at De Montfort University in Leicester. I then took on a role as a Youth Leader. As a Youth Leader, I had a keen interest in issues affecting Black young people, particularly Black boys, who can be seen by the system as “A Problem”. Many of these are victimised due racism at the personal and structural level. I have been involved in campaigning against knife crimes, and supporting young Black people who find themselves in gang groups.
Following my studies at De Montfort University, I then went on to complete my Master’s Degree in Social Work at Coventry University. Within Social Work I have worked with various client group such as: teenage parents, parents struggling with alcohol and drugs, parents with mental health issues, children in homes where there is domestic abuse, children and young people who are victims of or are at risk of child sexual exploitation, children who are victims of faith-based abuse, asylum seeking and refugee children, and in a nutshell, children suffering abuse and neglect in various forms. Within this my role has been to ensure support and services are in place for children and their families to ensure the basic care needs of these children are promoted. Such include their emotional needs, health needs, educational needs.
My role as a Child Protection social worker led to the formation of STACAN in April 2020
I came up with a name that reflected what we aim to achieve
STACAN is an acronym that stands for: Standing Together Against Child Abuse and Neglect.
Originally formed in the UK, STACAN UK is registered as a Community Interest Group. STACAN UK seeks to work with minority families, particularly from African communities offering a voluntary service to members from these communities geared towards safeguarding children from abuse and promoting their wellbeing. STACAN UK works with families to provide child protection awareness and positive parenting skills to parents and carers from African communities. By building parents’ knowledge and skills, we aim to help reduce the number of African children subject to child protection plans and reduce the number of children removed from their families and placed in the Care System.
Research evidences that there is overrepresentation of Black children in the Care System in the UK. Our voluntary service here is a way of giving back to our community, and also part of our service to God.
STACAN Ghana is registered as a non-profit organisation. Our focus here is contributing to promote the wellbeing of children in Ghana. We aim to carry out this task by collaborating with relevant individuals, groups, organisations, all agencies with similar interest to address issues faced by children in our society. Our community outreach work takes the form of workshops, training, working with individuals and groups.
Education is at the heart of what we seek to do. Areas we will touch on include: Female Genital Mutilation, Abuse linked to faith, Child Trafficking, domestic Abuse and children. Child Marriage, Child Sexual Exploitation. Whilst we acknowledge that Child Abuse covers a broad spectrum, a particular attention will be given to Child Sexual Abuse. This is due to the devastating short and long term impact of sexual abuse on children. Such include the trauma that many survivors are living with today even in their adult life.
As a service, we equally aim to liaise with policy makers and decision makers at both the local and national level to influence decisions made about the rights and wellbeing of children.
In terms of the Law and our values
Our work is guided by key legislations and human rights treaties such as The United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
As a service we recognise the fundamental human dignity of children and the urgency of ensuring their well-being and development is promoted.
Key values underpinning our work include: Respect for all persons, Non-judgemental attitude, Equality, Social justice, and anti-oppressive practice.
As a child protection social worker living and working in the UK, I acknowledge the challenges we have here in Ghana, such as the limited resources which means children and families here are not afforded the high level support we would want them to have. It is therefore my hope that as a country, issues pertaining to the welfare of children will remain on the top of our agendas, and that government will pay more attention to investing in services that matter to children.
For me, such include scrapping the medical examination fees for children who have been sexually abused, and offering tailored intervention such as free therapy/counselling services for these children.
We ask for a more robust child protection system in Ghana where children suffering abuse and neglect are safeguarded in a timely intervention.
We equally acknowledge that when it comes to safeguarding children, we each have a role to play. That is why the Children’s Act 1989 makes it clear that safeguarding children is everybody’s business/responsibility. Our theme says: promoting the wellbeing of Children preventing abuse and neglect. You have a role to play and I have a role to play in keeping children safe from abuse and ensuring positive outcomes for them.
Thank you once again for being here and for giving me your ears, and May God bless us all.