I've tried to help people who've had problems.
Some have been persecuted for their faith, like the Russian
Christian rock singer Valeri Barinov, or the Siberian Seven.
Since 1992, our focus has been on children at
The Jubilee Campaign is registered as a charity
now, with a handful of staff and many volunteers. In the
beginning, we were a lobbying group. We were one of the first to
use the political system to lobby, setting up the All Party
Parliamentary Group on Street Children in 1992, and gaining
consultative status at the United Nations.
We've raised key campaigns before they become bigger
issues. As a result, we've been able to work with the
international media and help the issue on to the global stage for
others to take forward. This has happened on several campaigns: the
plight of street children, the killing of children in Brazil and
Guatemala, child prostitution, sex tourism, kids behind bars, child
sacrifice (in parts of Uganda, where people think this ritual can
increase their chances of health and wealth).
We're pleased that several organisations and networks
are now taking up these issues. We helped to establish
such networks as the Consortium for Street Children, ECPAT, and the
Human Trafficking Foundation, and took a leading role in promoting
I don't consider myself a "do-gooder", and
haven't picked issues out of a newspaper. I'm not a professional
campaigner trying to right every wrong. Most of the campaigns I've
been involved with have come as a result of someone asking me to
help - a personal relationship. Often we've become close
We campaigned for Alexander Ogorodnikov, when
he was near death in the Soviet Gulag prison camp. After his
release, we helped him set up the first free food kitchen in
Moscow. It was a joy to be reunited with him in February 2013, when
a book about his life was published and he visited the UK.
In May last year, the blind Chinese
human-rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng and his wife Yuan Weijing
visited the UK as the guests of Lord Alton. We met him because we'd
been campaigning for him when he was in prison in China. We
connected deeply, and spending time with Guangcheng and Weijing was
We wouldn't just rush out and launch a campaign just
because something is wrong. When a friend called and asked
if we could "do something" about children being sacrificed in
witchcraft ceremonies in Uganda, it seemed unbelievable that this
could be happening on a wide scale. So we sent someone to research
the issue, alongside our Ugandan partner. We published a detailed
report documenting such cases, launched a campaign and petition,
signed by people in over 90 countries worldwide, and worked with
the BBC on a television investigation that was nominated for an
Emmy in 2012.
This is a campaign that doesn't have any quick
fix, because it's about changing attitudes. Equally, it's
clear that we couldn't stay silent when we had objective facts, and
a local partner on the ground who needed help.
We always try to obtain first-hand research,
and learn from experts who have already gone ahead of us. Our Kids
Behind Bars campaign was launched after extensive research by Fr
Shay Cullen in the Philippines, and also drawn from the leading
documentary film-makers True Vision, who produced a film on this
I think it is important to measure success,
otherwise we wouldn't know if we had made any difference. I've
tried to design campaigns around an issue, and each campaign has
had a specific, accessible objective. I'm not trying to save the
world. Our objective has been to bring change and to ensure that
things, something, will change as a result of action we have
As a result of the campaign against child prostitution
in the Philippines, we saw the law changed in the UK, and
the introduction of extra-territorial jurisdiction, enabling sex
tourists who abuse children overseas to be prosecuted when they
return. We campaigned to stop children being imprisoned in adult
jails, in the same cells as rapists and murderers in the
Philippines - again with Fr Shay - and, after a few years, the law
was changed to stop this happening.
The sex tourists must be stopped. They have
allowed their compulsion to overcome their awareness that their
action involves hurting young children. Many of the tour operators
we investigated here in the UK were driven by profits, with the
full knowledge that children would be exploited. We have a new
campaign aimed to raising awareness about child sex exploitation
around the World Cup in Brazil, in conjunction with Child
Exploitation & Online Protection Centre, a National Crime
Agency command, and supported by the Metropolitan Police.
I don't think evil will ever be eradicated on planet
earth as we know it. The capacity for evil runs through
the human heart. Each of us has the ability to do good and to do
evil. I think I became aware early on of people's ability to
inflict terrible damage upon others. This covers tyranny on a wide
scale, but it can also be true of people caught in abusive, violent
relationships. Sometimes we just can't stop ourselves.
But there's a lot of goodness in the world. If
we can get the facts in front of people, they will respond. Also,
I'm pragmatic: people can't respond to every case, every issue,
every problem, every campaign. These days, there's a greater
awareness on social issues and good causes, with a mechanism to
I've seen things change as a result of direct action
we've taken. Thisis fulfilling and inspiring and
energising. It convinces me that I have to keep doing what I do. My
lifehas been enriched by getting to know some remarkable people,
and these friendships bring encouragement.
I've rarely got up in the morning thinking, "Oh
dear, I've got to go to work today."
In some ways, everything I had done previously prepared
me for this. I had worked in journalism and PR, and
quickly learned that these were important skills to be employed in
I'm an Anglo-Indian, and grew up in India as an
only child. My parents separated before I was born, and my mother
worked all hours to give me a good life. I had a happy childhood,
blissfully unaware of anything other than Elvis. Today I live in
Surrey with my wife Joan. My daughter Rachel and her family live
nearby. My son Luke studied computer-games technology at
university, and built an app for the Taken eBook we launched
recently at the Hard Rock Cafe.
In 2007, Jessica my eldest daughter passed away, aged 22
years. This was like an earthquake in my heart. It was a
life-changing event for me, and has come to redefine my life. The
answers to some of these questions may have been different before
27 December 2007.
Some wonderful people have influenced my
thinking: George Verwer of Operation Mobilization, Lord
Alton, Peter Benenson, the founder of Amnesty International.. . .
The book that I always name-check is The Little Prince by
Antoine de Saint-Éxupery.
Once there was always music around: Elvis, the
Beatles, Dylan. The only music I can listen to these days is black
Gospel, by people such as James Cleveland, F. C. Barnes, Todd
Ledbetter, Kirk Whalum. This music reaches out of the past and
I had an unforgettable holiday with Jessica in
India, and earlier another wonderful holiday with Luke in
Memphis. I've travelled a lot, so visiting unusual places has lost
its grip. I'm fine with Joan choosing where we go.
I like to read or watch movies, some television
shows. There's nothing better than The Wire.
These days I can't find any state of happiness,
because this sense of Jessica's loss is always with me. I'm
heartened to have family and friends who understand and are with
I do pray. At the moment, I'm praying for
strength for the day.
As for being locked in a church, I don't get to
see family and friends as much as I'd like to, so I'd choose as
many as I could cram into the building.
Danny Smith was talking to Terence Handley MacMath.
His book, Shouting into the Silence, is
published by Lion Books.