‘Every child deserves to go to school and learn’
After the loss of her baby daughter, former Prime Minister’s wife Sarah Brown channelled her grief in the most extraordinary way...
During a recent meeting at the United Nations on tackling global poverty, I was asked the question, ‘What exactly is Theirworld?’ When our charity launched 15 years ago, I might have answered differently, but I know who and what we are now. I replied, ‘We help children to unleash their potential to literally unlock their world.’
When we began in 2002, I wanted something positive to come out of the loss of my daughter, Jennifer, at just 10 days old. I was heartbroken, but realised I still had the power to find ways for the most vulnerable babies and children to thrive.
With a brilliant team of people who worked with me as trustees and our first staff – many of whom are still part of the charity today – we set up the Jennifer Brown Research Laboratory to be at the forefront of what science could deliver. The results have been remarkable. One story had special resonance earlier this year, when we found out the work had helped to save the life of Ella Mcconnachie, the granddaughter of the late Labour Party leader John Smith.
Today, Theirworld, as the charity is now called, is fearless and innovative. It is at the forefront of shaping and implementing new ideas, and pioneering solutions to help give girls and boys around the world the best start in life. From running pilot projects such as double-shift schooling for Syrian refugees in Lebanon, to launching coding clubs for girls in Africa, I am proud of everything we do. We built the largest-ever education petition of more than 10 million signatures and took it to world leaders. Our message was clear: every child deserves to go to school and learn.
One of the huge benefits of my role has been meeting so many selfless, amazing people. While in 10 Downing Street I brought in many charities, hosting receptions and joining in thousands of good causes. So while Theirworld is fairly small, though growing, we have worked out how to get a bigger job done by building partnerships with others.
I get involved with all our major projects, planning and representing the charity, but what I find really exciting is seeing so many bright young people – particularly our network of Global Youth Ambassadors around the world – bring fresh ideas and energy to our work.
It’s sometimes difficult to pause and take stock. Every child I see – whether in a refugee camp, a hospital ward or a children’s centre – makes you realise how important early learning and play, good health and nutrition, and the right to feel safe actually are. They are children. They deserve a childhood. One thing is certain – countries and global leaders around the world can do more than make empty promises to vulnerable children. We owe them.
‘I was bereft but I had the power to help vulnerable children thrive’
Sarah: ‘One of the benefits of my role has been meeting so many selfless, amazing people’
Boys and girls should have a childhood, no matter where they are the world