The Children's Society in Birmingham and the Black Country
Programme Manager: Simon Cottingham
The Children's Society in Birmingham and the Black Country programme runs several projects working with children, young people and families. Our core work is around children and young people who run away from care in Birmingham and the Black Country – our Looked After Missing Persons (LAMP) project carries out independent return interviews and provides surgeries and group work in children's homes across the city.
Building Bridges is a unique family support project which works with the parents of young people who run away from home, using the 'triple p' model.
This work is delivered in partnership with Spurgeons Stepping Stones, and was developed in response to the need for family support identified during our work on the Birmingham Young Runaways Initiative (2007 – 2010) – a pilot project working with children and young people who run away from home.
The programme is also delivering the Restorative Approaches pilot project in children's homes in Birmingham and the Black Country – training staff in residential care homes in restorative justice approaches to enable them to build better relationships with the children and young people in their care and to reduce conflict within the home.
In the future, we would like to further develop our work with volunteer mentors and seek funding to develop our successful work with persistent runaways and young people who run away from home.
Visit our Black Country Advocacy Service page.
We know from our research that around 40-50% of children not living with their family – including those in residential and foster care – are likely to have run away at some point. This may be due to many factors, including the quality of friendships, their feelings about school or their family experiences prior to leaving home. Running away needn’t necessarily be a reflection of the quality of care.
However, the disruption inherent in being ‘looked after’ by the system can compound the problems faced by young people, with devastating effects.
These pictures and words have been put together by a group of vulnerable young people who have chosen to express themselves through means other than vocabulary. This gives us a chance to hear the voices of children living in care who have first-hand experience of running away. In their own words they share with us their desperation and hopelessness.
This booklet has been designed to help residential children’s homes, foster carers, social workers and other professionals think about how they can help young people experiencing the feelings highlighted in the booklet.
This is what young people say about why they go missing from care homes. Now more than ever we need to hear these voices and take notice.
Please read our latest Annual Report.