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Lily* was 14 when she was referred to us by British Transport Police.

She was on their top ten list of missing people and had been reported to them seven times – an alarming amount for a young teenage girl who was clearly having a very difficult time.

She was living in a care home in Leeds – but being from the south of England and a long way from her mum and brother she was very unhappy about this. Lily had been moved for her own protection after she had been exploited, run away frequently and services became increasingly concerned for her safety.

But being taken away from her home environment made Lily lash out in the home, being violent towards others and causing damage as well as continually running away.

The teenager has poor mental health and has self-harmed and considered suicide in the past, but was determined to escape from the people trying to protect her so she could drink, take drugs and have fun. We got in touch and when we met Lily was very different from what we had been expecting. 

She was bright, lively and bubbly with an engaging personality and keen to talk to us.

She spoke about her family and how much she misses her mum and brother, which was why she kept running away. We helped her understand the risks she was taking and the danger she was putting herself in as well as reinforcing the knowledge that people are trying to help her. In more recent visits we can see Lily’s mental health is much better and she hasn’t run away since March. She says she feels like people are listening to her now and she attends on-site education every day.

With our help she has been able to accept the current situation and enjoy being a typical 13-year-old while we help her navigate the obstacles in her future and make sure she is on a better, safer path.


*Names and identities have been changed.