Growing up on the Streets


Award-winning longitudinal, participatory research project.

Growing up on the Streets has given a voice to 198 street-connected youth over three years, in three African cities: Accra in Ghana, Bukavu in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Harare, in Zimbabwe.

The research aimed to challenge the binary view that children are at risk ‘on’ the streets but safe ‘off’ them. It reveals the complexity of life and choices available to young people in these three cities and seeks to better inform both practical interventions and policy.

Growing up on the Streets is an international collaboration between street youth, street workers and academic and charity partners and is funded by Backstage Trust, with Knowledge Exchange funding from the UK’s Economic & Social Research Council. The research is lead by the University of Dundee.


MRS President’s Medal: 2015. The President’s Medal is awarded annually to an organisation or individual that has made an extraordinary contribution to research. StreetInvest was chosen as the winner by President of MRS, Dame Dianne Thompson, Chair of MRS Richard Silman and CEO of MRS Jane Frost.

Stephen Fry Award for Public Engagement, Project of the Year: 2017. The annual Stephen Fry Award recognises the work of outstanding staff and students in communicating University of Dundee’s research and practice to a wider audience.

The Story Map

The Story Map is an innovative, immersive, visual representation of the findings from the Growing up on the Streets project. In May 2017 the ‘Story Mappers’ – street-connected youth working as researchers – went into the streets and informal settlements of Accra. They took photos and videos on tablets provided by the project, that they felt helped to explain and represent the lives of their peers. Click on the link to explore their stories, in their own words and through their eyes. 


Special thanks to Backstage Trust for their investment in Growing up on the Streets

Academic Team

Patrick Shanahan – Co-Founder of StreetInvest (D), Former Research Director

Wayne Shand – Manchester University, Research Director                               

Prof. Lorraine Van Blerk – University of Dundee, Research Director

Janine Hunter – University of Dundee, Researcher, Data Coding and Analysis

Country Project Managers

Thomas D’Aquin – PEDER – Democratic Republic of Congo, Bukavu

Shaibu Chitsiku – Street Empowerment Trust – Zimbabwe Harare

Selassy Gbeglo – Catholic Action for Street Children and Street Girls Aid – Ghana, Accra