Victorian young boy

Today, many teenagers in our society face a bleak future. A shocking number are abandoned, abused  or at risk of sexual exploitation. At best, they miss out on the support and nurture they need to flourish. This is why one of our key areas of work is to tackle the problem of teenage neglect. Thankfully (and because of the crucial donations from supporters like you) we have a rich history of pioneering service  to young people in this area.

Helping runaways since 1881

young Lily in 1894

Our work with neglected teenagers dates back more than a century. In our early days, we ran children’s homes across the country for vulnerable young people.

Children like Lily who, at 14, ran away from home  in 1894 after her mother died, to escape the violent abuse of her drunken father.

She came to our St Chad’s home near Leeds, was taught a trade and finally went to live with her aunt to create a new life.

The 1980s and 90s 

Runaway booklet

Not only did we provide accommodation – we worked hard to gain young people’s trust, to find out why they had run away. By helping them resolve these problems, we tackled the issues at the root so that they could return home.Back in 1985, we opened the Central London Teenage Project (CLTP), an innovative programme providing the UK’s first ever safe house and refuge to homeless young people living on the streets of London.

This caring approach has been at the heart  of our work with young runaways ever since.

In 1990, CLTP grew to provide the first ever longer term accommodation for young runaways. Another safe house and refuge was opened in Leeds, and Safe in the City Manchester was launched in September that year, which continues to this day.

The present day

 Young runaway

Sadly, children who run away today face many of the same problems as Lily did in the 19th century. Times may have changed but neglected teenagers need love, support and refuge as much as ever.

Many of our national projects – that you support – now work with teenagers at risk. We have 10 projects dedicated to helping young runaways, and our Make Runaways Safe campaign, launched in 2011, has influenced important changes to legislation – with enormous help from our supporters.

That support must continue. Thousands of young people need help now, but we cannot reach them  without your generous support. If you’d like to donate please visit our donate page or call Supporter Care on 0300 303 7000.

By Ian Wakeling - Records, Archive and Data Protection Manager
Ian Wakeling
- Research team

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