Who we are
In May 2001, following the deaths of newly arrived immigrant children including Victoria Climbie, Damilola Taylor and Jude Akapa, Debbie Ariyo a UK Civil Servant, started Africans Unite Against Child Abuse (AFRUCA) as a platform for advocating for the rights and welfare of African children. It became a registered Charity in July 2002 and a Company Limited by Guarantee in October 2001 with a Board of Trustees appointed to run the organization. In February 2020, based on the expansion in its work and activities, the Board of Trustees resolved to change the name of the charity to AFRUCA – Safeguarding Children.
AFRUCA aims to promote the well-being and protection of children in UK Black and Minority Ethnic communities. Our work is a response to the risks that children face in regards to safeguarding and protection from abuse and harm. The main focus of our work is Child Abuse Prevention and Early Intervention.
The 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of The Child and various UK Child Protection legislations provide the foundation for all our work at AFRUCA. We aim to promote the best interests of the child in all our activities. Our stance is that culture and religion should never be a reason to abuse children.
Our vision is to see a world in which children from Black and minority communities can live free of cruelty and abuse at the hands of others.
OUR FIVE THEMATIC WORK AREAS
- Awareness raising and sensitization: within Black and Minority Ethnic communities and youths about children’s rights as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international conventions and UK legislation promoting the rights and well-being of children.
- Information, education, and advisory services: to raise the profile of BME children in the UK, increase awareness of their needs, improve policies and practices, and develop the leadership potential of BME youths. Activities include research and publishing reports; media work; conferences, seminars, workshops, and training programmes for policy makers, service providers, parents, faith and community leaders, young people; communities.
- Advocacy and policy development: working closely with policy makers to shape the development of policy and regulatory action to promote the well-being and protection of children.
- Community and international development: in partnership with others to put in place programmers and projects to help relieve some of the suffering and hardship that BME children experience.
- Family Support: Working to support children, young people and families in crisis, at the point of breakdown through effective early intervention services.
AFRUCA AND THE SIX PRINCIPLES OF SAFEGUARDING CHILDREN
Protection: The best interests of the child is paramount. Our charity seeks to ensure children are safe from abuse, harm and exploitation and parents can provide a safe environment for their children.
Partnerships: AFRUCA works nationwide with statutory agencies, other charities, local authorities, law enforcement agencies, legal practitioners, communities, faith organisations and families in the safeguarding and protection of children.
Prevention and Early Intervention: Our work focuses on assessing the cultural and trans-cultural issues involved in child abuse and exploitation cases within and outside the family unit. We provide education programmes and toolkits on various child protection issues in different communities to help improve understanding of how to protect children from abuse, exploitation and harm.
Empowerment: AFRUCA works in a non-judgemental, non-oppressive manner to support families, communities to learn new skills, which would lead to better protection for children in communities and enable better parenting of children, providing a loving and nurturing environment and preventing abuse and harm.
Accountability: We receive the mandate for our work from the communities we serve. We serve as a bridge between our communities and the statutory services working to address child abuse, exploitation and trafficking.
Proportionality: We have zero tolerance of child abuse, child trafficking and exploitation. However, our intervention is based on the premise that change can occur through effective collaboration and joint-working with affected communities.
Members, Board of Trustees
Ms Gani Martins: Chair
Gani Martins was appointed Trustee of AFRUCA in January 2015 and elected Chair of the Board in September2019.
Gani is a Social Worker and former Director of Children’s Services. She has a B.A. Hons. Degree in Sociology / Social Policy and PG Diploma in Management.
Gani has substantial management and leadership experience in the field of Child Protection from working in several Local Authorities and as Safeguarding Adviser for Government Office for North West England. As an Associate of the Local Government Association, she has worked on numerous local authority child protection and corporate peer reviews and audits. She was Assistant / Interim Director of Children’s Services for Salford City Council with responsibilities for Children and Families Social Care, including a Secure Centre. In 2014 Gani established a Children’s Social Care Improvement Consultancy.
Gani retired from full time work in 2019 and is currently involved in voluntary work with a special interest in women’s empowerment, mental health, domestic abuse, and is a Trustee of Gapolunya Foundation, a charity supporting vulnerable children in Nigeria. She is an Associate of the Staff College involved in the Black and Asian Leadership Initiative programme.
Dr Tsitsi Chawatama – Vice Chair
Tsitsi is a Consultant Paediatrician at Chelsea & Westminster NHS Foundation Trust and a Fellow of the Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health. She has specialist interests in Child Safeguarding, Medical Education & Global Health and is a passionate advocate for children, their well-being and rights. In addition to clinical work, she serves as a Trustee of the charities Sentebale and UK-Med. Tsitsi joined the board of AFRUCA in July 2018 and has been the Vice-Chair since September 2019.
Vacant - Treasurer
Ms Georgina Awoonor-Gordon
Georgina Awoonor-Gordon was appointed Trustee of AFRUCA in July 2018.
She is the Director of Programme Development at Chance for Childhood, a charity working in sub-Saharan Africa to address key issues faced by children from some of the most marginalised communities including children with disabilities. She has over 20 years of project management experience, with 15+ years in international development, including donor and private sector experience.
Janet Latinwo - AFRUCA Trustee
Janet Latinwo was appointed a Trustee of AFRUCA in May 2014 and served as Chair from July 2016 to September 2019.
Janet is a Principal Lawyer currently working in the public sector in the area of child protection and local governance. As a University of London certified Lecturer of Law Janet also provides training to clients and students on a range of legal subjects.
In 2012 Janet was appointed as a school governor and has over 8 years primary and secondary school governance experience, chairing Exclusion panels and Staff grievances. Janet was co-opted as a lay member of the Education, Policy, Development Scrutiny Committee for a Local Authority from 2012 to 2014.
Janet is currently an executive committee member of the British Nigerian Lawyers Forum (BNLF). Janet has taken an active role in community organisations and charities providing voluntary assistance for over 20 years, with the belief that together small steps can make great strides. Janet has held a number of Public Relation & Legal positions within community based organisations over the years, organising high scale events for High Commissions and special delegates, observing legal advisory roles and high level executive committee participation.
- Debbie Ariyo OBE – Founder/Chief Executive Officer
- James Titi-Lartey – Head of Finance and Operations
Head Office London
- Samson Amanuel Menghistu – Finance Officer
- Naeema Ahmed – BASNET Network Manager
- Saara Morro – Social Worker
- Lauretta King-Webb – Social Worker
- Deborah Bakare – Social Worker
- Fabiola Bayavuge – Modern Slavery Co-ordinator
- Nathalie Yatosenge – County Lines Family Support Worker
- Rekiya Adam – Volunteer
- Remi Abudu (Website Manager)
- Elias Linares Sanchez (IT Management)
AFRUCA Community Champions Initiative
AFRUCA employs a volunteer-led approach to address many of the issues that affect children in the BME community across England. The idea is to create a ripple effect of change through peer-to-peer learning and active citizenship. We have devised a range of Community Champions initiatives focusing on a range of issues, including Modern Slavery, Child Protection and Female Genital Mutilation. Over 200 volunteers are involved in our Community Champions initiative, helping to promote new knowledge within their own community as active citizens.