Help The Children's Society build a safety net for children who run away from home.

Pizza, young people, an unforgettable song and a charter that will change lives

Our work experience student Anya, centre above, shares her experiences from our Runaways Charter launch event

Turns out that extreme weather can hit London too – I discovered this on the second day of my week or work experience at The Children’s Society. Despite much planning, we were hit by a crazy surprise on the day of the launch of the Runaways Charter, when excessive rains flooded our original venue! 

Thankfully, a replacement location – a Bella Italia restaurant in Covent Garden – was only a short walk away and just right (and big enough) for the audience. Its dining area was full of paintings and bright colours – the relaxed atmosphere was also reflected in the casual dress code and carried through the event. 

I liked this as it made the event more fun and the delicious food made the launch even more enjoyable. 

Designed by young people 

The entire event was run by young people, so it was only natural for the launch to be introduced by Jessie and Jade, two girls around my age who wrote the charter, which we there to launch. They told spectators about the charter and also shared some of their own experiences. 

The Runaways Charter was designed by young people so it is a way of getting councils to treat young people how they would like to be treated when they are in a vulnerable situation. The girls co-wrote the charter, using their experiences to help them decide how they thought other young people would like to be treated.

The charter also tells authorities how they should treat the young people but it also lets them know about actions they should be taking to help monitor runaways in their local area.

Trust and honesty

Two of the main themes in the charter are trust and honesty. Both Jade and Jessie said that authorities needed to be more trustworthy in order to understand what caused young people to run away. They could do this by being honest about what action would taken after they had been found. 

A video showed other young people’s views about the importance of the charter. I thought that this was good as I got to see what more of the young people who wrote the charter thought. 

Following this Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society spoke about why he thought the charter was different to current policies and why it is important if authorities wish to reduce the number of runaways each year. 

He also thanked Enfield, Kent, Lancashire and Derbyshire councils for pledging their support to the charter. (Since then, the London borough of Barking and Dagenham has also pledged to support the runaways charter. Great!) 

'At the centre of something that will change how the nation deals with vulnerable children and young people'

Next Tim Loughton, the minister for children and young families, stated that all councils should support the charter. Councils need to understand the events that cause young people to run and how best to help young people that do. It was nice to see what adults who had the power to influence the lives of children thought of the charter. It made the whole event seem real and showed me that after the launch there would be a good response to the charter. 

Then – I can’t forget this – a rap song! (Play the song.) Ciara, one of the writers of the rap said, 'they only see the front of what happens'. I really enjoyed the rap as it made the event easier to relate to for people my age, I also enjoyed talking to Ciara as I got to see what she really thought about the finished product.

Comedian Simon Day also spoke and told stories from his childhood (when he was homeless) and gave a positive review of the charter. I thought that it was nice to get to understand what an adult thought of the charter, and a celeb at that. 

I really enjoyed the event as it not only let me see what happens behind the scenes of a campaign launch, but it also was nice to see other young people at the centre of something that will change how the nation deals with vulnerable children and young people.  

By Anya Vithlani, 14, a work experience student in our media and campaigns team

 

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