Every five minutes a child in this country runs away from home or care

Teenage girl sitting on floor outside in blanket

Some are as young as eight. Many have no choice but to go it alone, and take huge risks on the streets – begging or stealing to survive, or resorting to drugs and alcohol. Many are groomed by adults who will later exploit and harm them. This is the reality for 100,000 children who go missing every year.

One in six young runaways end up sleeping rough, one in eight resort to begging or stealing to survive and one in 12 are hurt or harmed as a direct result of running away. 

We believe that every child who has become a young runaway deserves to be protected through a national safety net of support. 

What is Make Runaways Safe?

Without appropriate help, runaway teenagers are highly vulnerable and at risk of substance abuse, sexual exploitation and homelessness. They need to know that there are people who can help them and services that they can turn to.

As part of our Make Runaways Safe campaign, former young runaways told us what they would most like to see from those charged with protecting them. In 2012, they created the Runaways’ Charter, a clear code for agencies with a duty to protect children who run away or go missing from home and care.

We ran the Make Runaways Safe campaign to call on agencies to protect the 100,000 young people who run away each year. 

Campaign success

Thank you to more than 7500 supporters who joined this campaign. With your support, we achieved:

  • More than 40 local authorities signed up to the Runaways’ Charter and committed to making changes to protect young people who run away from home.
  • Changes to government guidance which now ensures that all councils will have to offer young runaways a mandatory 'return interview', to identify and help provide the support they need. This is an important change and a powerful tool to protect young runaways.

See local support for runaways

We asked councils across England to sign up to the Runaways’ CharterCo-authored by young people, the charter sets out guidance for how young people want to be treated when they run away from home or care.

How to use the map

To find whether your council signed the Runaways' Charter, click any area on the map. A small pop-up window should appear with the name of the council and a notice about whether your council has signed the charter.

You can also zoom in or out using the tool on the left side of the map.

Resources for parents, local authorities and more

We want to ensure that all local authorities are equipped with the right information to provide the right support for runaways in their area.

We've developed a series of resources for:

  • Local safeguarding leads
  • Local authority commissioners 
  • Professionals working with children and young people
  • Parents and carers
  • Children and young people

Find our downloadable resources for protecting young runaways.

You can also learn about spotting the signs of child sexual explotation (CSE).