We have led the research, lobbying and campaigning agenda to improve the lives of runaway children for over 25 years. This includes opening the first refuge for under-16s until the mid nineties, publishing the Young Runaways Action Plan in 2008 and our current Make Runaways Safe campaign.
Our services provide a safe haven where children who have run away or are at risk of running away can go for independent and confidential help, advice and support.
What we know about children who run away
We produce the only national survey on children who run away and have conducted these in 1999, 2005 and 2011. The latest report - Still Running 3 shows that every year 100,000 children in the UK run away from home. This number is unchanged since 1999.
Some groups of children are more likely to run away:
- Children in care
- Children who are absent or excluded from school
- Children who use drugs and alcohol or are in trouble with the police
- Disabled children or children who have difficulties with learning
- Children whose parents’ relationships have broken down
We jointly run the secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, and recently supported the APPG to run an inquiry into children who go missing from care.
The inquiry produced a report which outlined its findings and set out some practical recommendations for national and local policy makers to improve the support provided to children who run away or go missing from care.
The local picture
Our report Make Runaways Safe: The Local Picture has found that many police forces and local authorities are not doing enough to protect children who run away from home or care. The report based on a series of Freedom of Information requests in 2012 found that there are pockets of good practice across the country, but in many areas young runaways do not have access to services they need. Many local areas collect little or inadequate data about runaway children and the assessments children receive following a running away episode.
The report makes a series of recommendations, including training for front-line staff, councils and the police to improve how they collect and share information and for every child that runs away from home to receive a ‘safe and well’ check and return interview.
Make Runaways Safe Campaign
We believe that all children who run away should have a safety net to support them when they are at their most vulnerable. That’s why we launched the Make Runaways Safe campaign and our supporting report.
We are asking every local authority in England to sign up to our Runaways Charter, co-written by young runaways. Have a look at our interactive map of the country to see if your local authority has signed up. Visit the campaign website to find out what you can do to make young runaways safe.
Our new report Lessons to Learn: Exploring the links between running away and absence finds that children who have attendance problems are more likely to have run away.
It finds that a lack of awareness of the risks and signs of running away means that school staff are missing valuable opportunities to spot the warning signs that a young person is running away. This is being compounded by cuts to multi-agency staff in schools and local authorities.
The report recommends actions that schools and local authority professionals should take to protect runaway children from harm and exploitation.
Overview of key runaways, CSE and trafficking policy and research developments
This guide contains an overview of key runaways, CSE and trafficking policy and research developments starting from the launch of our Make Runaways Safe campaign in July 2011 to March 2013. It summarises key government guidance, parliamentary reports and new research that professionals working in this field need to be aware of or adhere to in their day to day work.