#PressRelease: Life on the tracks


Today sees the release of Life on the tracks to mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC) in 2019, and the fifth anniversary of the publication of Living on a Railway Line.

Life on the tracks[1] is a follow-up report to Living on a Railway Line[2]. It reviews the achievements towards better protecting children and young people from harm, since Living on a Railway Line was published.

Living on a Railway Line was the result of Professor Andrew Rowland’s Churchill Fellowship[3] award and the follow up highlights that, 30 years after the introduction of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child[4],there are still countries where the rights of children are not as developed as they could be in modern society, and where children do not receive the protection that they need, they are entitled to, and they deserve.

Progress has been made in Scotland[5] where legislation which Living on a Railway Line advocated has been introduced to give equal protection to children from assault (ie to prohibit physical punishment of children). Wales[6] is expected to introduce similar legislation very soon.

Professor Rowland argues that this leaves England and Northern Ireland stuck in the past where children do not have the protection that they deserve, they need and they are entitled to, and insists that evidence shows why children must receive this protection as it is crucial to protect their health and wellbeing.

Significant achievements highlighted in Life on the tracks include:

  1. The launch of SicKids charity[7] (1164131) which has achieved the following milestones:
  • Three state-of-the-art Sensory Spaces opened in the North West of England, with a further two to follow by March 2020, and four in Cambodia. As a result of this over 25,000 children in North Manchester and over 25,000 children in Oldham and over 25,000 children in Salford all now have access to a bespoke Sensory Space within their local Emergency Departments. These Sensory Spaces have had considerable success in the care of children and young people at North Manchester General Hospital, The Royal Oldham Hospital and Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. In Cambodia, at least 5,000 children in Sihanoukville, and the children in the catchment area of Battambang Referral Hospital in Northern Cambodia, now have access to modern Sensory Spaces for the first time.


  • Professional development opportunities have been created for health professionals working in Cambodia and in the United Kingdom to learn from each other and to consider how best practise from each country could be modified to be suitable for the other.


  • The first baby massage course in Cambodia has been taught by a senior children’s nurse from Manchester.


  • A child development clinic having been set up in South West Cambodia for the first time, with professional visits from UK-based physiotherapist and speech and language therapist.


  • 5,000 children and 2,500 families now have access to first aid trained health and social care professionals in South West Cambodia.


  • The wishes and ambitions for the future, of children attending a non-governmental programme in South West Cambodia, have been established.


  • The introduction of a children’s asthma guideline in South West Cambodia for the first time which the local team believe has had an enormously positive effect with decreased presentations of children with asthma to the clinic and improved asthma care in the community.


2. Research collaborations with colleagues in Australia and the UK have resulted in proposals for the appointment of an anti-FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) commissioner in the UK, and an evaluation of the law surrounding mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation.

3. The launch of a novel communication tool, Not Just a Thought… which is anticipated to assist professionals to more easily pick up suspected cases of child abuse, neglect, trafficking, or exploitation.

4. The University of Salford has become the first university in the world to be accredited under the ChildSafe programme underlining the importance of giving everyone a way to protect children in the future.

5. Professor Rowland receiving the Pol Roger Prize (2016)[8], the Association Medal of the British Medical Association (2017)[9] and the Gold Decoration of Honour of the European Union of Medical Specialists (2019)[10].


Seven steps to improving the lives of children and young people are described in Life on the tracks :

·      Improve education
·      Increase employment and employability
·      Tackle poverty
·      Decrease neglect
·      Focus on improving the health of children
·      Empower girls and young women; remember boys
·      Develop ChildSafe communities with children and young people at their hearts

Professor Rowland said,

“This follow-up report is called Life on the tracks, firstly as it remains the case that some children around the world are physically living beside railway tracks, with all of the dangers this poses. Secondly, other children’s lives are metaphorically on-track towards danger severe danger, and therefore always deserving and often requiring a protective intervention.

“I believe that improving the lives of children and young people, both in the United Kingdom and on a global basis, requires a coordinated focus on innovations in the three inextricably linked areas of children’s advocacy, child health and legislation affecting children.

“This year, 2019, marks the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child yet there are still countries around the world where the rights of children are not as developed as they ought to be in modern society, and where children do not receive the protection from their State that they need, they are entitled to and they deserve. This includes England and Northern Ireland where children do not receive the same protection from assault as adults do and where the scientific evidence shows legislative changes must be made without further delay”.


Notes to editors:

Life on the tracks has ISBN: 978-1-912337-32-3 and is freely available from: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/52712/

A series of photographs is available via: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/d4008sdd70egxdm/AABdMBDad45r6GhrQBUqGE–a?dl=0


Professor Andrew Rowland can be contacted via:



[1] http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/52712/


[2] https://www.wcmt.org.uk/fellows/news/living-railway-line-turning-tide-child-abuse-and-exploitation-uk-and-overseas


[3] https://www.wcmt.org.uk/fellows/stories/dr-andrew-rowlands-story


[4] https://www.unicef.org.uk/what-we-do/un-convention-child-rights/


[5] https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/109156.aspx


[6] https://gov.wales/abolishing-defence-reasonable-punishment-children-overview


[7] https://beta.charitycommission.gov.uk/charity-details/?regid=1164131&subid=0


[8] https://drandrewrowland.wordpress.com/2016/05/21/press-release-andrew-rowland-receives-2014-pol-roger-award-and-prestigious-new-churchill-medallion-at-london-award-ceremony/


[9] https://www.pat.nhs.uk/news/North-Manchester-Consultant-Recognised-by-BMA.htm


[10] https://twitter.com/DrAndrewRowland/status/1185556238572109824




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