18 May 2007

Government Chance to Support Runaways Under 16

18 May 2007

National Consultation Delivers Final Recommendations

Local and central Government, charities and the Police will consider new recommendations being presented by The Children's Society on 18 May at the Royal Horticultural Halls, Westminster.

The recommendations are the result of a national consultation led by The Children's Society with support from the Department for Education and Skills. The national consultation ran in seven regions: London, the East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, the North West, the North East, the West Midlands and the South West. The Police, Social and Children's Services and Voluntary Sector Organisations, contributed through a series of regional workshops and a national survey, what they believe needs to be in place to support runaways under 16 in the UK.

The Children's Society will present emerging findings from the national survey at the conference which will consult on the final steps in a sector wide agreement on the way forward for provision of services for young runaways. After the conference the recommendations will be presented to the DfES for their consideration. The conference will:

• Set out and examine the consultation findings to date
• Provide testing of recommendations prior to the final report to DfES
• Give direct access to DfES officials to consider emerging solutions
• Provide a networking opportunity aimed at facilitating better inter-agency understanding.

The Children Society hopes the DfES will respond to the recommendations between July and October 2007.

Since 2006 a coalition of charities working with young runaways, including, The Children's Society, National Missing Persons Helpline, The Railway Children, NSPCC and local charities including Rerun in Dorset and Talk Don't Walk in Cheshire have united to campaign for a national system of support for young runaways.

Research carried out by The Children's Society*, revealed that most of the 100,000 per year children who run away, do so because of problems at home, with girls age 14 -15 the group most likely to run. Runaways employ risky strategies to survive with one in six sleeping rough and one in twelve hurt or harmed while away. Whilst most don't run far from home, many end up sofa surfing or sleeping in stranger's houses.

Notes to Editors:

• Coalition members include:The Children's Society, Barnardos, Get Connected, NSPCC
Railway Children, Rerun, Runaway Helpline, Safe at Last, St Christopher's Fellowship, Talk Don't Walk
• *The Children's Society, Still Running II was published in October 2005 after a survey of 11,210 children across 70 mainstream schools, 11 pupil referral units and 13 schools for children with learning difficulties. 77,000 children runaway for the first time each year and of those 1 in 6 will sleep rough and 1 in 12 will be hurt or harmed. This follows Still Running I which was published in 1999 and is the largest national inquiry into runaways published anywhere in the world.