New lifeline for young runaways

  • Date: 27/01/2016
  • In: UK

Railway Children is launching a new initiative to help 16 and 17-year-olds in the North East and Cumbria who have run away from home.

Railway Children has awarded £39,000 to fund its partner, homelessness charity Depaul UK, to create a new role to reach out to homeless teenagers and to deliver awareness and prevention sessions at schools.

The funding will also support Depaul’s existing Nightstop service – an award-winning same-night emergency accommodation service for young people in housing crisis, which covers all 18 local authority areas in the North East and Cumbria.

The service will take referrals directly from young people as well as from schools, colleges, social care services, the voluntary sector, police and the British Transport Police.

The new service has been launched in response to the significant need identified in the area and backed by Railway Children's Reaching Safe Places research, which found practitioners struggling to find safe places for vulnerable children due to fewer services, funding cuts and higher thresholds for intervention.

The Railway Children research also found a third of child sector workers struggle to get social care assessments for 16 to 17-year-olds, leaving them stuck in limbo between social care and housing services.

Railway Children UK Programme Manager Sarah Lanchin said: “Risky situations can happen almost immediately. When a teenager has ‘run out of favours’ and sleeping on a friend’s sofa is no longer possible, ending up at the home of someone they barely know can happen very quickly. Behind closed doors, invisible to police and social workers, they often don’t realise the risks until it’s too late.

“This new partnership between Depaul UK and Railway Children will provide a vital lifeline for some of the UK’s most vulnerable young people struggling to find a safe place when they most need one.”

Kester Young, Nightstop North East and Cumbria Manager, said: “The funding from Railway Children will allow us to create a new role reaching out to young people who have run away from home and are vulnerable to exploitation.

“We will be working in collaboration with Railway Children to have a strong presence in the main train stations and bus stations in the North East and Cumbria – places where, research has shown, young homeless people pass through and can be targeted by ill-intentioned people.”