28 Jul 2011

Richard HaighThis month SCARPA, our programme in the North East that supports young runaways, is our Featured programme. We spoke to the programme's manager Richard Haigh to find out more about what they do and how they are making difference to children’s lives.

What do you think the biggest challenges are in working with children and young people?

I would say it's gaining young people's trust - convincing them that you are different to other adults who might have let them down before, and that it is worth them taking the time to tell their stories.

What do you feel has been your biggest achievement over the past year?

Definitely getting funding and launching the SCARPA Squad which is helping young people who've previously gone missing to stay involved with the programme and it's also helping other young people who are thinking of going missing.

What impact have you had on the local community?

No-one in the community wants situations where we have children as young as eight going missing - with no-one knowing where they are, or if they are safe, or who they are with, so the community have been very supportive in helping us to keep children and young people safe.

How many children and young people do you support each year?

We work with over 100 children per year and we also work with the parents of these children.

What are your plans for the coming year?

We're really looking forward to seeing the SCARPA Squad in action as they deliver talks to young people in schools as well as training adults and helping programme workers support individual young people.

We want to carry on meeting young people reported missing to the police so that we can introduce ourselves and offer some real help. And finally we just want to keep striving to be the most effective service we can be as we try to help young people to be safe.

Finish this sentence: I couldn't do my job without…

A sense of humour - even though young people often have the hardest situations - their humour and character makes us determined to help them as much as possible.

What do you think are the most frustrating stereotypes about young people?

That young people don't have feelings and emotions. But certainly how a young person may present themselves on the outside is often different from how they're feeling on the inside.

What is the predominant reason you come across for children running away?

Some often feel that things have started to go wrong for them - usually at home - and that people don't really care for them, and also because of low self-esteem they think getting into risky situations isn't a big deal.

Richard Haigh, Programme Manager, SCARPA.

Every year more than 100,000 children run away from home or care. And they need your help.  

That is why The Children’s Society has launched the Make Runaways Safe campaign. We aim to protect every child that runs away and ensure that there is a national safety net of support. Find out more about how you can help.