Oh go on, please talk to us about runaway kids: Aviva will donate £2 to the charity Railway Children for every post!

(231 Posts)
FrancesMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 15:35:44

Did you know that it's thought that one child runs away from home or care every five minutes in the UK?

To help raise awareness, the charity Railway Children is working with Aviva to provide help and support to children who have run away from home, or are at risk of doing so.

They've also helped us to build some pages on why children run away and how to spot the warning signs.

What they would like now is to hear your thoughts. Do you have any experiences to share - either as a parent or maybe from your memories as a child? Do you have any thoughts on the issue in general - about public awareness and support for the work of the Railway Children, for example? Do you think most parents just assume this isn't a problem they'll likely have to deal with?

Do please come and add your thoughts here. For every contribution to the discussion, Aviva will donate £2 to the Railway Children. You can post a maximum of 3 times per thread.

Aviva will donate up to £100,000 between now and the end of 2012 as part of the Mumsnet campaign, and there's a few other ways you can donate more money.

(SURVEY NOW CLOSED) They'll also donate £2 for every person that completes this survey. Everyone who takes part and adds their details at the end will also be entered into a prize draw to win VIP rugby tickets (for a family of 4) to attend the Aviva Premiership Final in May at Twickenham, courtesy of Aviva (these can be passed on to family or friends if you win but are unable to attend).

And £2 for everyone who 'likes' and recommends this thread on Facebook (by clicking 'Recommend' at the top) and if you 'like' any of the articles here.

Do please join in and help that money stack up!

growing up I never thought I would end up doing what I am doing now.

I hated my peer group and with good reason. They hated me more and put me through hell, I used to dream about dieing. Someone once told me about the whole "if you go to sleep christmad will come quicker" so I trained myself not to sleep. My parents were ok, just the Passive agressive, absent type and I was from the age of 5 the sole carer for my beloved gran. I ran the house, washed, cooked, cleaned, ironed. I beg my parents for a new oven for 5 years, I moved out and they had one inside a month. Anyway I never thought of running away, Killing myself yea (got real close a few times to suceeding and not in the cry for help kind of way) battled depression, mental health issues, self harming, self worth issues for years. Would have been instatutionaled at the age of 12 but for the my gp and the child pyscologist who I credit with saving my soul.

These days I work with animals I work very long hours and we are always at home, I managed to get myself a highflying career in the UK, earnt a very good living and loved my life, but that all chaged in a heart beat. So I adapted left the Uk and came here.

We have several "kids" that we do voulentary work with, I have an open door policy and have befor now have had the police bring kids to us. We have a room outside that has a bed is dry and warm in the winter and food specifcally for run aways, all we ask is for them to talk to us when they feel up to it. We have several rooms in the main house aswell, once these kids feel upto joining the family. We have over the years had 4 to 5 "runaways" with us most of the time on average, Mid to late teens mostly, they all have their own story to tell. Some incredibly sad, some of confusion, some of hopelessness. Some have stayed for years, some weeks, some a few days. Some can´t find a voice for their problems for a long time, some lie but I learnt a long time ago that lies are part of the story aswell.

The one question I have learnt is the most important is NOT why did you run away, but "what do YOU want to do now"? Not what is right, but what in your heart says will save your soul. If that is a bowl of soup and a nights sleep then that is what is.

We live for the here and now not the past and not the future.

We have rules, they are simple. Say please and thank you, treat everyone here with respect, our door is always open.

Without exception the one thing I have learnt is that every single runaway needs somewhere safe and warm, they need time to think, the ability to access the right services and help for their problems and they need someone to Listen, really listen to what they have to say.

OH and they need a hug

Actually reading that I don´t know if it counts for the 2GBP, but I hope so!

2GBP is not a lot but to a runaway it means a lot.

Like some previous posters up thread, I too had a plan that I was too cowardly (perhaps not the right choice of word, but that's still how I feel) to take further. I was planning to escape to my grans, 80 miles, and had worked out how far I could walk each day.

My parents aren't terrible, quite a bit Stately Homes, but not deliberately evil, but I was terribly terribly unhappy (the start of my battle with depression perhaps) and I wanted someone, anyone, to talk to who wouldn't judge me.

I had never heard of Railway Children either, I am v.glad that they exist and I'm grateful that Aviva are supporting them in this way.

TheDeathAndGlories Mon 22-Oct-12 17:37:04

Like gazza said earlier I think I have led a sheltered and blessed life as as far as I know I don't know anyone who has run away. I feel bad though because looking at the stats I probably do and I could have helped. Growing up I had the kind of parents who would have just accepted someone if I had asked them for help. (I know this for fact as it happened under different circumstances)
I hope my children never feel that running away is the best thing but if they do I really hope they encounter someone like my mum

Smudge588 Mon 22-Oct-12 17:44:13

Scary stuff. I was also told by one of our local charities that they focus on trying to get young people a bed with a family for a night or two as the main hostels can be quite dangerous for young people. All this needs money and support to make it happen. Thanks aviva.

Doshusallie Mon 22-Oct-12 18:36:45

Anything educational that can provide children with the understanding that there are other options to running away and how much danger they place themselves in by being vulnerable on the streets must be supported.

This is assuming of course that staying where they are isn't more dangerous. sad

MaryZed Mon 22-Oct-12 18:48:22

That's a great post mummy.

That's what my son needed - somewhere safe and dry, where he could think things through, somewhere he felt less pressured and more able to make decisions.

Sadly there are few places like yours. Many runaways end up in city centre hostels, taken in by drug pushers and pimps.

aroomofherown Mon 22-Oct-12 19:05:13

Mummy that thread made me weep a little. My brother ran away when i was 3 (he was 13) and didn't make any contact until he walked back in the door 10 years later.

I haven't ever really understood what he went through, but your post allowed me see him as a vulnerable young lad trying to be (needing to be!) tough. I grew up hearing that he was a naughty boy who got in with the wrong crowd, but it was only in recent years, after working with teenagers for years, that I realise that my parents must have had a role to play. We haven't addresed that as a family - he is still mostly estranged. I was too young to remember much but it really did have a lasting effect on the family - I just don't really understand the circs.

I have just typed an epic post and it got eaten! So here the condenced verison

Aroomofherown, that took a lot of courage for your brother to walk back in that door, he is my hero of the day, and you are too for realising that there are always other factors.

Some of the reasons that runaways ead up with us, are so different to what you would expect.

How many of us have wished that we could runaway, when things are work go wrong?
when our relationship goes down the drain?
when we burn tea,
when we just need a few seconds to our selves?

How many of us have wished for a desert island??? What stops us? The knowledge that the perfect idealist life does not really exsist. You see that is where we are different from kids, they still have the capacity to dream. Not all of them are running away, so of them are running to.

To a better life, a happier life, a more excepting life.

The reality is sadly different.

I remember back when childhood was simpler (I my youth) but these days the world is moving so much faster, there are so many more opportunities to be out of our depth and confused. We expect kids to make decions about their future. Do XXX course, but what will it mean to your future? Future to a kid is the next 30mins and we want them to make decisions that are going to effect their whole lives? God I would be overwhelmed!

Try hard, work hard, do well at school, get grades, go to universty, get a good job? Whatever happened to try your best? When did everyone get so fixated on university and acemdemic jobs? what happened to your good with your hands, and are great with xxx, what about being plumber, carpenter, seemstress?

Gay, straight, bi??? Who cares? We want our kids to be happy and safe, right? So when did we stop telling them that?

We have support Networks, why don´t kids? I don´t mean friends, I mean the football coach, the village preist, the school teacher, the GP, the family and friends? These kids are falling through a support network with great big holes! I do not know how to fix that, but any organisation that is trying to needs all the funding it can get.

I really believe this. We are parents need to stop and LISTEN. Turn off the telly, come home early, turn off the computer, the phone get a board game out and sit round the table as a famiy from a young age and LISTEN to each other. Then and only then, will kids truely know the one thing we want to them to know.

No matter what you do, no matter where you are. I am your mother and I love you and there is nothing we can´t solve if we talk about it.

SORRY still epic!

OH,, god that sounds really patronising, and I didn´t mean it too.....SORRY

I am not trying to tell anyone how to parent.

Its just that so many times I hear kids say. I tried to tell my mum / dad / legal gardian XXX but they didn´t want to listen.

missorinoco Mon 22-Oct-12 20:35:50

I'm not sure I have much worthwhile to contribute, but I will try.

My sister used to pretend to run away for attention, she was a preteen. She would only "run away" a short distance (10 minutes walk), then come back and hide to see if the note had been found. I wonder in hindsight if this is a normal phase of development, or whether it meanr something.

My mother was always disinterested in it, which may have been a good attitude, as it didn't feed attention to it.

aroomofherown Mon 22-Oct-12 21:45:23

Mummy there is a lot of wisdom in your words. I didn't find it patronising, just very refreshing. I never thought about the guts it would have taken to walk back in the door. I consider myself quite openminded and empathic but obviously I've missed something in this story. Thanks for making me see things from the other perspective.

We want our kids to be happy and safe, right? So when did we stop telling them that? - I'm going to remember this one. I completely agree that we push academia on kids and the idea that without a degree/A levels you won't be anything. It bothers me a lot in my job, I suspect sometimes schools do it to control behaviour.

Jackstini Mon 22-Oct-12 22:06:29

Have a family member with mental incapacity who tries frequently to run away (sometimes successfully for a while) it would break my step mum's heart if he wasn't found and reported sad

I used to work for an agency that worked with a charity set up for runaways in our city.

The work they did was amazing - it was a real 'word of mouth' place that took kids in, offered them a warm meal, a place to relax and, most importantly, no questions asked. They'd always encourage a phone call home to let people know they were safe.

The children's tales were humbling too - most from disaffected backgrounds or who had got mixed up with the "wrong" friends and got in too deep to a situation. The support and guidance from the people who worked there really, really helped. I'd love to work somewhere similar in the future.

They'd also take calls from parents whose children were runaways and offer advice that was written by the service users themselves.

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Mon 22-Oct-12 22:25:23

<waves>

RubyCreakingGates Tue 23-Oct-12 08:04:25

I never ran away despte wishing I had the means and courage to do so. When I was 17 I found my stuff in a suitcase on the driveway. My mother had finally decided the disapproval of the neighbours was a more pressing problem than our fractured relationship.

My life began. It could have been so much worse. I was very lucky in the course it eventually took. Had I left earlier it would probably have been a lot worse.

DS1 "ran away" when he was in 6th form. Sort of: He and his GF used to alternate between their houses spending half the week here and half the week there. Eventually he ended up living there full time. I tried so hard to not give him the same sort of atmosphere and family life that my damaged mother gave me sad

ICouldBeYou Tue 23-Oct-12 08:34:38

I wanted to run away - my brother was incredibly violent to my mum and siblings and ruled the house - but I just couldn't putt mum through the worry, with everything else she had to deal with. I would fantasise about living with a foster family where I could get out the front door without being assaulted or terrorised. Sometimes I wanted to run away just to make people see that it was not all about my brother (who had sw support, etc). I hope my children never feel like running away OR feel trapped and unable to see a way out as I did.

Devora Tue 23-Oct-12 09:46:44

I haven't had time to read the thread yet, but just wanted to say that I think Railway Children is a fantastic cause.

Wommer Tue 23-Oct-12 10:41:53

Great cause!

My SIL ran away from home when she was about 15 ( parents divorced , both children went to live with dad and new partner , not allowed to see their mother )
This was back in the 1970s
She ended up in a hostel for runaway girls in London , and was very happy there .
According to PIL , she " came crawling back "
She has somehow rebuilt her relationship with them . I wouldn't have bothered

LateDeveloper Wed 24-Oct-12 11:16:58

My friend's brother ran away when he was 15 (we were 13 at the time). The police brought him back after a few days but when he left again it was sort of accepted that there was nothing anyone could do about it.

After that my firend kind of withdrew into her shell and we didnt hang out so much and when I left school for college we lost touch. At the time being 13 I didn't really question what could have been going on for him or the family to make him so determined to leave.

Now as an adult with my own kids i do wonder was it teenage rebellion or was there abuse of some kind going on - we always played out in the street or in my house so I din't know the family that well.

Some very sad stories here. I didn't realise how many children run away - nobody in my close family/friend group have so it never really occurred to me. I asked DD (age 14) if she'd heard of childline, she has but didn't know the number and wasn't sure where to find it. They really need to push this more at school.

jen127 Wed 24-Oct-12 18:23:14

what a worth cause !

MrsTittleMouse Wed 24-Oct-12 19:14:08

The only runaway that I know about was a boy from my primary school. He was in foster care and ran away to try to find his Mum. The headmaster of my school caned him as a punishment. sad

I certainly thought about running away when I was younger, but I suppose it never got bad enough that the desire overcame the practicalities of having nowhere to go. In retrospect, it would have driven my poor parents insane with worry, and I'm glad that I just rode it out until I was an adult. They are lovely people who were just going through a lot themselves.

imperialstateknickers Wed 24-Oct-12 20:21:31

I've posted on this thread twice before, about my DB, his running away due to sexual abuse, and eventual death from substance abuse. I'm back now only because I've remembered they'll donate up to three times per poster. And that's enough, thinking about him still makes me cry and I'm not emotionally strong enough to read the rest of the posts, the first couple of pages were enough. good luck everyone xx knickers

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