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"No child should grow up alone. StreetInvest exists to invest in those that do"
No child should grow up alone. StreetInvest exists to invest in those that do

Patrick Shanahan

Remembering our Co-founder and Inspiration


Our Co-founder, Patrick Shanahan, was a great man who influenced and inspired many with his belief in and committment to street children. He passed away on the 7th August 2016. The vision he laid out for a just life for every street child guides StreetInvest and our work is his legacy. 

This page is dedicated to Patrick, a giant champion for street children and the difference he made in his extraordinary life. 
 

A champion for street children

Patrick advocated for street children and their rights throughout his life and was an inspiration to many in the street child community and to those organisations he supported and was involved with.
 
This includes the Consortium for Street Children, who he supported for 20 years and for whom he was a Trustee. In 2011 he was awarded the Consortium for Street Children’s inaugural Street Child Champions Award, in recognition of his unwavering commitment.

Patrick founded numerous street child charities in his life, including StreetInvest, Street Girls Aid and Catholic Action for Street Children.

In 2013 Patrick initiated and became Research Director of the ground breaking Growing up on the Streets research project, which sought to bring a voice to nearly 200 street youth living across Africa in Ghana, Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Where the child is, you must begin.
You begin by accepting that reality.

The child is on the street and if I don’t know the street, I don’t know the child and the child won’t talk to me.”

 
Patrick Shanahan

Patrick and the United Nations

Patrick was instrumental in the journey to the United Nations General Comment on Children in Street Situations, which was published in July 2017. This marked the first time that Governments’ obligations to street children under international law have been specifically and definitively laid out.

Patrick addressed the UN on no less than three occasions in his fight for international guidance on the protection of street children's rights.

 
May 2011: Patrick spoke at the opening panel at the UN Human Rights Council 16th Session discussion day on the ‘Root Causes and Factors Leading Children to Live or Work on the Street’, where he urged the HRC to take innovative action. This was the first time in nearly 20 years that the UN held a dedicated discussion on street children. At the session, the UN Human Rights Council unanimously passed Resolution 16/12: Rights of the Child: a holistic approach to the protection and promotion of the rights of children working and/or living on the streets. 
 
November 2011: Patrick attended the Expert Consultation convened by the OHCHR with StreetInvest CEO, Duncan Ross, as a step towards bridging the gaps between policy and practice. This contributed towards the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) report on the protection and promotion of the rights of children living and/or working on the street, which can be read here.

May 2014: Patrick joined a small delegation of CSC members, along with StreetInvest CEOs Kate Bretherton and Duncan Ross, who were invited to present on the need for a General Comment to the UNCRC. Patrick joined the panel of speakers. Shortly after in June, the UN committed to developing a General Comment on Children in Street Situations. You can access the General Comment here.
“I challenge you to rethink, re-plan, renew. This is not Harry Potter, there is no magic solution.”
 
Patrick speaking at the opening panel of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) 16th Session; March 2011

A father on the streets

While Patrick will be remembered for his great oratory, passion and dedication to supporting street children's rights, he is perhaps even more fondly remembered as a father to street children. While he worked to be heard at the highest levels, he firmly believed that his work started and ended on the street with the young people he fought for. He spent much time visiting young people on the streets in cities across Africa - young people for whom he became a friend and father figure.
Patrick, as we affectionately call him was like a father, brother and a very good friend to me. He touched and transformed my life to an extent no one would do. I am forever grateful to Patrick because without his help and support, I wonder where my life would be.  

Esther, former street girl from Ghana.

We will be updating Patrick's memorial book

At Patrick's funeral, we shared a memorial booklet with messages from the many people who had been touched by his work. If anyone has any stories, memories, or other words they would like to share, or if you would like to order a copy of the new booklet, please contact us here.

This is a very small selection of messages that StreetInvest recieved, including some from the young people to whom he dedicated his life. 
 
"He is a hero to us, a voice for us. His ideas have led to an improvement in our self-esteem and we have organisations like [StreetInvest’s partner] CoDWelA as a voice for us. We will forever remember him for inspiring the change that brought improvement to our lives.”
 
Street connected children from CoDWelA
I could not hold back my tears when I heard the news. It is so sad to know Patrick is no more. What happens to we, the street children of the world? We have indeed lost a great giant, a father, a brother and a friend. 
 
Yaaba Ben, Ghana  
"Almost a year ago death took you away from us. Death didn’t care less, that you care a lot about we children on the street. You were a mentor and a role model to me. That rainy day when we first met at the Arts Centre, it was the first time I saw a white man who showed so much interest in the welfare of street children. I have learnt a lot from you. But now you are gone. May your gentle soul continue to rest in peace."

Street girl and Growing up on the Streets participant, Ghana
 It is not a cliché to say that a light has gone out. His commitment to street children and social justice was inspirational; he touched so many people's lives with his courage, his oratory, his stubbornness and sheer dedication. StreetInvest and the work of the street workers truly is his legacy. 
 
Felix Holman, UK
Patrick was a great man who influenced many lives. Without him the world will be a worse place. Without him, the world would have been a much worse place. Street children have lost a giant champion. StreetInvest will do our best to live up to his dreams. 
 
Duncan Ross, UK
Patrick told me "it is possible to change the world, but before that, everybody must accept change begins somewhere!"
 
Semy Ntamwira,
Democratic Republic of Congo