Call for more runaways help

A new report is calling for the example set by a Rotherham charity to be followed across the country.

The Children’s Society is calling for a national safety net, like the one offered by Dinnington based SAFE@LAST, to be put in place for every child who runs away from home.

The report, Make Runaways Safe, says that many youngsters are in grave danger and at risk of harm, physical abuse or sexual exploitation. 

In the report, Bob Reitemeier, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said:

“Pockets of good practice exist but overall there is an alarming lack of awareness and a noticeable failure to prioritise running away as a key child protection issue.

“Action is urgently needed to address this, which is why The Children’s Society is launching a major campaign calling for a national safety net for young runaways.

“We recognise that there is a cost attached to this but at a time when the need to make savings is paramount, there is also a compelling case for return on investment.”

In Rotherham, young people at risk through running away do have services available to them—provided by SAFE@LAST. 

The charity provides a range of services including a 24-hour helpline, ongoing one-to-one support and an emergency refuge\athe only one in England.

 

The Children’s Society’s research shows that more than 100,000 children run away from home or care in this country every year, two thirds of which are not reported to the police.

The report is calling on the Government to draw up a national runaways’ action plan to significantly boost help and support for everyone involved, something which SAFE@LAST supported this week.

SAFE@LAST Strategic Runaway Services Director, Tracy Haycox, said: “South Yorkshire is unique as there is full wrap around, direct access services for runaways. 

“As deputy chairman of the English Coalition for Runaway Children I have been able to share our model as a model of good practice across the country. 

“I’ve recently had the opportunity to support two local young people who visited the House of Commons to talk to Ministers about their experiences of running away in South Yorkshire. 

“Not only was this a great experience for the young people, but it allowed those in government to hear directly what services these youngsters felt they needed.”