Professor Andrew Rowland, Honorary Professor at the University of Salford and Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine at North Manchester General Hospital (part of The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust), this week attended a Reception at Buckingham Palace, hosted by Her Majesty The Queen on Wednesday 18th March.
The Queen, who is patron of The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, hosted the event to mark its 50th anniversary. Professor Rowland, as a Fellow of the Trust, was introduced to Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, as well as to one of Sir Winston Churchill’s grandsons and members of the House of Lords who were in attendance at the Reception.
Since 1965, over 5,000 British citizens have been awarded Churchill Fellowships, from over 100,000 applicants, to travel overseas to study areas of topical and personal interest. The knowledge and innovative ideas they bring back are shared, for the benefit of their profession, their community, and, in lots of cases, the nation.
For many people, a Churchill Fellowship proves transformational, and they go on to achieve great things - effecting positive change within society.
Andrew’s Fellowship report - Living on a Railway Line - was launched by the University of Salford at an event at MediaCityUK on 20 October 2014 in advance of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. A quarter of a century later, Andrew believes that there are still laws, policies and procedures in the UK and internationally which fall way short of properly protecting children.
Andrew's Fellowship journey took him to Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Cambodia. It was whilst undertaking a mobile health clinic beside a railway line in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, that he was inspired to give his report the title Living on a Railway Line. He flew 35,043 miles, spent 10 weeks away from home, and visited nine cities in five different countries - meeting an outstanding group of enthusiastic and dedicated child protection specialists from around the world.
His report contains key recommendations for the UK designed to build strong and healthy communities with children at their hearts. Themes that are covered in his report include better training to recognise and respond to cases of potential child sexual exploitation, the need to prohibit physical punishment of children, advocating on behalf of children and young people and mandatory reporting of child abuse.
Andrew’s recommendations surrounding professional education about child abuse and neglect have already resulted in an event, co-hosted by Andrew and a Member of Parliament, aimed at empowering practice and inspiring innovation amongst front-line practitioners which he hopes will result in better identification of children at risk of child sexual exploitation.
Last week Andrew also announced the launch of a new three-year Global Partnership between The Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, the University of Salford and M’Lop Tapang, a local non-profit organisation that works with over 4,000 children and families living on the streets of Sihanoukville in Cambodia.
The main goals of the partnership are to share clinical expertise as well as knowledge of child protection, and child health, issues between the partnership organisations so that all three can develop and learn new skills from one another.
Speaking after the Reception, Professor Rowland said: “Being invited to Buckingham Palace and having the opportunity to discuss my Living on a Railway Line report with Her Majesty the Queen, His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh and His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent was a great honour and a truly wonderful experience that I will never forget.
“My report is aimed at improving the protection of children in the UK and beyond. Coincidentally, the Reception was held on National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day and this is a good opportunity for us all to remember that it is communities that are best able to protect children from exploitation and other forms of abuse. We can all do more to protect the most vulnerable members of our society.
“Children are the future of our global society and that society will only prosper in the future if the children of today are better protected. Every child should have every chance of good health, every chance of happiness and every chance of protection from harm.
“As Sir Winston Churchill, himself, said, ‘what is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?’
“That is the challenge that I set to you – what is it that you will do to better protect children and young people in the future?”