Children run away or are forced to leave homes where violence, abuse, and neglect have become part of their daily lives. They also run to escape common problems such as bullying, relationship issues, loneliness and family breakdown.
The problems on the street are often worse than those they endured at home, with violence, drugs, sexual abuse and exploitation never far away.
Watch this short film to find out more about the risks children face on the streets.
Last year British Transport Police (BTP) dealt with nearly 7,000 incidents where there was a concern for a child’s welfare. 29% were children who had run away or gone missing.
Children run away for many different reasons, including family conflict, abuse, neglect, drug and alcohol issues, and problems at school. BTP's figures show that high numbers of these incidents were at stations in the north west region of the UK and London so we chose these as the locations to launch our first Safeguarding on Transport projects, supporting young people who BTP have identified as being at risk.
Our project workers take referrals directly from BTP, assess the young person’s situation to establish whether they need further support, and identify who is best placed to provide this.
As well as offering information, advice and guidance they provide one-to-one support and family support work. One-to-one support for young people addresses the reasons they ran away, while family work can improve relationships and reduce conflict. Both of these methods are effective in achieving long-lasting, positive outcomes for both the young people and their parents\carers.
Our Reaching Safe Places research told us that conflict in family relationships is a frequent cause of running away. Young people said that having someone to talk to is often of greater importance than having a safe place.
Our latest research is an analysis of the value of Return Home Interviews and follow-up support for young people who have been missing, using Social Return on Investment (SROI) methods.