The Undikumbukire Project Zambia (UP Zambia) social services was established in 2019 after recognising that incarcerated children need more than a lawyer to represent them in court. The UP Zambia Social Support team observed that children who end up in the criminal justice system in Zambia arrive with substance abuse problems, lack family support and face difficult social and economic situations. An estimated 80% of children entering the justice system struggle with substance abuse.
Confined in overcrowded facilities often shared with adults, lack of essential basic services and provisions whilst in custody / detention facilities, children are at high risk of mental health disorders and can present complex psychopathologies. Once released, children have very little social support, face stigma from their communities, and often end up re-offending.
UP Zambia assesses children’s needs, provides counselling, family support groups, opportunity to participate in sports and art, and linkages to education. These activities help children to reintegrate after they are released from custody or detention facilities and help prevent relapse into a cycle of crime. UP Zambia Social Services also works closely with children in the community who haven’t been detained but are at high risk of offending.