Expanding our UK work to keep more children safe

  • Date: 18/04/2019
  • In: UK

Railway Children is opening a third project in the UK, offering direct support to vulnerable children British Transport Police come into contact with on the rail network.

It is almost two years since we launched our first in Manchester, with the London project following in August and our teams in both areas have seen incredible success working with young people, local authorities, families and schools ever since.

Now, thanks to a grant from BBC Children In Need, we’re on the verge of opening a new project based in Leeds that will be the vital next step in helping us to create safety net across the UK for children who are putting themselves at risk. The transport system is a great place to find them, and intercept them, before they end up in even greater danger.

Some are being lured to meet people they’ve met on the internet or groomed by people planning to exploit them. Many are being paid or threatened to transport drugs around the country by ‘county lines’ gangs while others are running away from problems at home, bullying at a school or care placements they are fighting against. Whatever the issue, our project workers start talking to them and following up and visiting for as long as it takes for us to know they are not going to put themselves in danger again.

Complex cases and children in difficult situations

Pink Ross from our London project said: “We have been supporting young people who have a range of issues and it is great to see the positive results we are having.  For example we have managed to get one young person back into mainstream education after being expelled and we have helped another who had been badly bullied.

"Spending time with families has helped us change a difficult situation for a very young girl who was caring for her siblings and we’ve managed to prevent another child going in to care. We’ve helped a young man to leave gang culture behind and go back to school and supported many others who end up in trouble with the police.

“Each time we know that making contact can be a turning point for that young person and it is great to hear the outcomes when situations have changed in each case. We know we are making a difference to children’s lives with what we are doing and the project is growing all the time.”

Making a difference and making progress

Head of UK Programmes Gaynor Little added: “It’s great to see and hear about the impact we’re having as the work grows across the country. Individual stories are what keep us going and as we close cases, some of which we’ve been involved with for a long time, it’s great when you know that young person is looking forward to a very different future from when we met them. Just last week we said goodbye to a young girl and she was so sincere and genuine when she thanked us for everything we’d done that it gave us goosebumps.

“But it’s not just the young people who are appreciating our projects – we’re now getting asked for opinions and invited to contribute to planning the care of children involved with other agencies. Our teams are respected and we’ve even had care homes asking if they can refer other young people to us. That is a great endorsement of our work and a credit to the team but it also helps us to know that we are making a difference when we deal with difficult situations every day."

“Opening our third project in Leeds is really exciting. We’re just in the final stages of recruiting for that and again we’ll be taking referrals directly from BTP and able to reach vulnerable young people across South and West Yorkshire and Humberside,” added Gaynor.