Helping runaway children stay safe - the work of Safe in the City
100,000 children run away each year. This number is so huge that I find it difficult to get my head around it. Maybe put it like this - over 3,000 entire classes of children run away. It's still difficult to picture. This week I went to visit our runaways' project in Manchester and realised that the power of the numbers lies in the unique personal stories of each and every one of those children.
I was moved to meet young people like Debbi, 16. Her story is incredibly powerful, particularly her extraordinarily brave response to domestic violence. I was impressed at how she is now explaining her experience to family, friends and peers. It made Britain's runaway situation much more real to me.
Safe in the City has recently received a three-year funding award from the Reaching Communities Big Lottery Fund, to maintain their vital work in Greater Manchester, Oldham and Salford. Their ideology is to take a 'holistic' approach to working with young people, aiming to build their confidence and resilience.
Children like Debbi are running away from home every day in Manchester and throughout the country and services like Safe in the City are vital for these young people's well-being. And they resonate perfectly with The Children's Society's core values of love, justice and forgiveness.
Safe in the City has recently held group sessions with young people to shape the 'missing from care' policy for Greater Manchester police. Such a policy can and should only be informed by the voices of young people who have faced such difficulties. It is pleasing that local authorities are realising how important the voice of the child really is.