UNICEF Child Friendly Spaces at FIFA Fan Fests
© UNICEF/South Africa/2010/Pawelczyk
Included in the Child Friendly Space, next to the tented area is a playing field where children can play under the supervision of trained adults. Children show off their skills and play matches proudly displaying their favourite players' names.
The hosting of the FIFA World Cup in South Africa during June and July 2010 is expected to attract large numbers of local and foreign soccer supporters. To make it possible for millions of South African football fans and foreign supporters to watch the matches on television, FIFA has declared ten official public viewing sites, known as FIFA Fan Fests, in all host cities. These public viewing areas will be open from 10:00- 11:00 to 24:00 on match days, while some will be open every day. Entrance is free.
Because South African schools will be closed for the duration of the World Cup, it is expected that many children will be attracted to the activities at the FIFA Fan Fests where they could be vulnerable to sexual exploitation and abuse if separated from their caregivers or removed from FIFA Fan Fest environments by persons they do not know.
UNICEF child-friendly spaces
UNICEF, in co-operation with the Government of South Africa and NGO partners, has established child-friendly spaces as part of a national child protection programme at four of the FIFA Fan Fests in three host cities for the duration of the FIFA World Cup to serve as a refuge for children who are at risk.
The establishing of child-friendly spaces form part of a comprehensive UNICEF programme aimed at helping children and communities to celebrate the games in their schools and communities. In the longer term, the purpose of this project is to contribute to a strengthened child protection system as an enduring legacy of the event.
UNICEF child-friendly spaces will be located at:
- Innesfree Park, Sandton, Gauteng
- Elkah Stadium Rockville Soweto, Gauteng
- St Georges Park, Port Elizabeth
- Nelspruit in Mpumalanga
The child-friendly spaces will comprise a dedicated, covered area that is UNICEF branded, and that will make provision for a reception area, counselling area, nutritional area and a recreation area.
The objectives of the UNICEF child-friendly spaces are:
- to provide emergency care and tracing services for unattended children in and around the FIFA Fan Fests.
- to provide a base for specialised child care workers to ensure early identification of at-risk children and referral to appropriate services such as police, social workers, emergency children’s shelters and medical assistance.
- to provide a safe, supervised environment where children can watch the matches on television screens and enjoy child appropriate activities while receiving child protection services.
- to raise awareness among children and parents on how they can protect themselves while enjoying the games.
© UNICEF/South Africa/2010/Pawelczyk
UNICEF and its partners have tagged thousands of children and parents attending the Fan Fests and successfully reunited 60 children during the first week of games.
Trained staff at child-friendly spaces
Child-friendly spaces will be managed by experienced and screened social workers from the Department of Social Development, Johannesburg Child Welfare and Child Welfare South Africa. These social workers are familiar with the South African environment and can speak English and several other indigenous languages. Child and youth care workers and additional trained volunteers from various NGOs, social workers of designated child protection partners will assist. All staff will be clearly identified.
Activities of staff at the child-friendly spaces will include:
- conducting a rapid assessment of the circumstances of all vulnerable children and child victims of abuse who may be brought into the child friendly space;
- conducting child case management;
- providing immediate response to the physical needs of vulnerable or abused children;
- conducting verification and reunification actions of lost children with their parents/care-givers;
- providing psychosocial support, including counselling and support to vulnerable children and child victims of abuse if required;
- conducting statutory intervention and placement of children in child-friendly spaces if needed;
- referring children and adults to the services and/or the child-friendly spaces;
- accompanying children referred to other services when necessary including medical care, police or other relevant services;
- meeting the social and emotional needs of children through daily routines, age and developmentally appropriate activities, meals, toys and games, comfort items, blankets, clothes etc.;
- referring children under the influence of alcohol or drugs to agreed service provider; and
- sending daily reports and statistical information on services provided to children and their families to the Provincial Joint Operation Centre.
In addition, in the FIFA Fan Fest area, outreach activities of trained volunteers will include:
- orientation of vendors and security guards on Child Friendly Spaces
- volunteer tagging of children and their parents with numbered wristbands to expedite family reunification
- awareness raising with children and parents on safety tips
- making referrals to the play areas or the child friendly space depending on the needs of the child
Guidelines and procedures
A series of guidelines and procedures have been developed to assist staff connected to the child-friendly spaces in dealing with safety and protection of vulnerable and unattended children. The guidelines cover the following areas:
- Admission procedures
- Transfer to place of safety
- Separated children
- Persons searching for children
- Child victims of abuse
- Children with disabilities
- Children under the influence of drugs and alcohol
- Foreign children
The child-friendly spaces form part of a comprehensive programme to help children and communities to celebrate the games in their schools and communities.
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