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

Why we're working to Make Runaways Safe

The 100,000 children who run away each year need support

Every five minutes a child runs away from home or care in the UK. Shockingly, a quarter of those young people – 70 a day – are forced out of their homes by parents or carers.

graph illustrating the rates of children running away each yearMore than 100,000 children run away over night each year. They often take great risks on the streets. Many will be harmed or abused while they’re away from home.

In most cases children who run away do not get the help they need. Two-thirds of children who run away are not reported to the police. Three out of four don’t seek help because they don’t know where to turn or feel there is no one they can trust.

These children need our help.

Children running away today are younger, more vulnerable than before

We run several programmes across the country that work directly with runaways. Our staff members report that the young people who run away are now younger than ever before.

While the usual age of runaways had been 13 and 14 years old, today we are increasingly supporting children aged 11 and 12 years old. We are also working with a greater number of boys.

In addition, our programmes are working with more young runaways who are at serious risk of, or already involved in sexual exploitation.

The use of mobile phones and social networking sites has made it easier to target vulnerable children. Children are being actively targeted by adults in public places and also increasingly by their peers.

More than 25 years’ experience supporting runaways

Make Runaways Safe aims to ensure that every child who runs away from home is protected through a national safety net of support.

For more than 25 years we have worked to safeguard and protect young runaways. We’ve done these things because government and local agencies are not doing enough to prioritise these young children and so many remain hidden from sight.

Through our practice, we have learned that young runaways will only be protected when they are seen as a priority by every local authority and police force.

Government needs to make this a mainstream concern of all agencies and professionals working with children. If this does not happen, we will be leaving tens of thousands of children at great risk of serious harm in our communities.

Please read a more detailed overview of our campaign’s goals.

Our work with young runaways

We currently run nine projects working with children who run away or are at risk of being sexual exploited. We support more than 1,000 children who run away every year.

Our services provide a safe haven where children can go for independent and confidential help, advice and support. Each of our services offers intensive one-to-one work, which can be a one-off intervention or for as long as the child needs it.

In addition to our work with individual children, our projects provide family mediation and parenting support, prevention and awareness raising work. Our projects work with the police, local authorities, schools, health services and other agencies to make sure that young runaways get the help they need.

Locally we have also been the lead agency in setting up Missing Person’s Forums, regional multi-agency forums and sub-groups of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards.

Please read our Make Runaways Safe report – full reportsummary – for a more thorough look at the complex issues surrounding children and young people who run away.


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