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!

UmamiOrange Wed 03-Oct-12 16:47:06

I've nothing really useful to add, but clocking in to get the £2 for Railway Children!

I do think that most people probably do not realise the extent of the problem, or maybe assume that only children with a 'troubled' background will run away.

I cannot imagine what the parents of a runaway child go through or how they cope sad

Hesterton Wed 03-Oct-12 17:19:21

I was on a train once from Bristol to the South Coast, early evening. A boy of around 14-15 ducked out to the toilet as the conductor came, and snuck back in opposite me.

We got talking - he was absconding from care, which seemed to be a regular occurance from what he was saying. He had no money but his aunt was meeting him in Portsmouth he assured me. We talked for quite a while about how he circumnavigated the care system to try as best he could to see friends and family; he knew he had been dealt a rogue card in life but was a charming and warm character, wily would describe him I think, but nice wily. He had just learnt to try and get where he wanted somehow.

I didn't have a phone, and he seemed safe so there didn't seem much point in hue-ing and crying - he did have a phone, and he had a conversation with his aunt as we travelled, the gist of which was that they knew he'd get to see her for a bit before he'd be picked up again. He said the social workers would know where he was.

I gave him a tenner when I got off the train (a few stops before him.) He was genuinely grateful - he hadn't even hinted that he wanted money but he was pragmatic about his lack of it.

I often wonder what happened to that boy - he'd be about 25 now I guess.

TheMightyMojoceratops Wed 03-Oct-12 17:21:16

I don't have much to add either. If I post to mark my place, does that count for the £2 donation?

JulieW1966 Wed 03-Oct-12 17:32:27

I work in the prison system with sufferers of severe mental illness, I have also worked with drug dependence, so many sad stories of abuse and obvious negative outcomes, I sometimes feel that charitable organisations can be disjointed, many working for the same outcome but with evident repetition. Some joint working would be more beneficial and I feel that the charity givers should be able to see where the money is spent as some feel that lots of money is spent on admin etc. A big well done to Aviva for there contribution, I hope it makes a difference !

combinearvester Wed 03-Oct-12 17:38:31

I didn't know how many children ran away tbh. I think more needs to be done with children in care as I suspect they make up a large proportion / run away more than once etc. Agree with what JulieW says about joint working too.

QOD Wed 03-Oct-12 17:42:50

Bring back old fashioned council run youth clubs, somewhere to go, someone to talk to, somewhere to turn

nextphase Wed 03-Oct-12 17:45:00

I too didn't realise that number of kids ran away - but what is counted as running away? I still remember my little brother disappearing for a couple of hours one afternoon, probably aged about 5. He was in the garage attic. Did he run away? Or are we talking kids who disappear for a few days, and the police are involved?

Actually, thinking about that, the neighbours kid, and her mate from up the road disappearing fora few days. The police were involved at that point, but they hadn't gone far, and I saw them wandering down the road on about day 3, and told school that morning, when they were promptly found. Don't know why I didn't tell my parents there and then!

PurplePidjin Wed 03-Oct-12 17:55:59

What Julie said - the recent devastation of Youth Services in some counties has taken away what little partnership working was possible sad

trice Wed 03-Oct-12 17:59:26

I ran away from home when I was eight. I spent two hours in the park then had to come home for a sandwich because I was hungry.

It worked for me. After two hours of frantic searching my parents were ready to listen to what I had to say, and I got to see that I really mattered to them.

I cant imagine what families go through when children run away for real though.

Svrider Wed 03-Oct-12 18:04:35

For some children I think running away is the only option they know about
I was sad to find 0800 1111 isn't always tought in schools
Also sad at how many times a caller hangs up, due to no one able to answer the call
All children should be taught the number

JeanBillie Wed 03-Oct-12 18:34:18

Thanks for raising awareness of what must be a complete nightmare for any family that goes through this sad

My daughter, aged eight, announced I was a horrible mother and she was leaving home. She packed a carrier bag, and off she flounced, banging the front door behind her. I watched her from the window as she walked down the path, and settled into a hole in the hedge at the end of the garden, and sat looking very sad for herself. I darent take my eyes off her for one second, in case she really walked off. I can remember how scary that felt, just for an hour, and I actually knew where she was and what she was doing, and she was safe. I cant imagine how it must feel if you dont know why your child has run away, where they are, or if they are safe. Fortunately Tiny Gherkins agreed to come back in if I cooked bangers and mash for tea, and all was well with the world. Thank you Aviva for making me tell this tale for £2.

Wigeon Wed 03-Oct-12 18:40:24

I used to volunteer for the Missing People helpline for young runaways, called the Runaway Helpline (called Message Home when I volunteered for it). It was a very interesting experience; most runaways are actually only running away temporarily (obviously still very distressing for all involved), and a significant proportion were in care, or known to social services for some reason or another. We spent a lot of time contacting the Emergency Duty Team at various local Social Services. sad

Anyone in London, able to get to south-west London, might like to have a look https://fromwww.missingpeople.org.uk/missing-people/young-people/24-hour-help if they are interested in volunteering. (I assume they are in the same place as when I volunteered!).

And you can also call it if you are an adult worried about a young person: here https://fromwww.missingpeople.org.uk/missing-people/families-and-friends/24-hour-help. They can talk you through the law, signpost you to other sources of practical or emotional help, and generally support you.

EduCated Wed 03-Oct-12 18:44:28

I think it's a very under-promoted cause. I was unaware of the extent of the issue and have only recently heard of Railway Children.

Wigeon Wed 03-Oct-12 18:45:06
HeathRobinson Wed 03-Oct-12 18:49:51

I had a whole running away plan when I was a kid. Any time I was unhappy, off I'd go to improve 'The Plan'. I was even going to grow tomatoes hmm in my hideout that happened to be in a large park.

I never did it, though.

SamsGoldilocks Wed 03-Oct-12 18:55:16

Done the survey.

Rindercella Wed 03-Oct-12 19:11:05

I always remember DH telling me the story of how he was a teenager in Bristol in the 70s. He found a wallet in the street and being the good, law-abiding chap that he was, he went to the local police station to hand it in. While he was waiting to be seen, he said how struck he was by all the missing posters of teenagers there were. It deeply saddened him at the time - wondering where on earth all those young people could be - and it came back to haunt him when Fred & Rose West were exposed.

That very simple tale has always stuck with me when I think of runaway children. So desperately sad.

Maryz Wed 03-Oct-12 19:20:39

I would like to see a lot more help for families of troubled teenagers.

When we were coping with ds1 running away and sleeping rough, the choice we had was to cope alone, or to put him into care.

There was no help offered to us and to him within the family unit.

So I would like to see money put into mentoring schemes for young runaways because it isn't always the parents' fault, contrary to popular opinion. Sometimes the children are troubled and the parents are desperate to help, but just can't sad.

Sunflowergirl2011 Wed 03-Oct-12 19:22:29

When I was about 16 my then bf ran away from home (his parents were physically abusive) What shocked me (and still does) was how easy it was for someone to slip through the net and end up on the streets with no help. He lived in a 'good' area, went to a 'good' school and had lots of friends with stable home lives. One close friend had a dad who worked in social services. Despite all this it didn't take long for him to end up sleeping on the streets. scary sad

toldmywrath Wed 03-Oct-12 19:26:59

Hesterton I bet that boy never forgot your kindness & your taking an interest in him. Well done. We need more understanding of homelessness.

Cinnamonkey Wed 03-Oct-12 19:29:19

I don't really have anything to add, but I'm very glad Aviva are supporting this cause.

MisForMumNotMaid Wed 03-Oct-12 19:29:23

It saddens me that it gets to the stage that so many children feel they have to get away. A girl several years below me at school from a very nice family ran away when she was about 14. She was found about a week later, turned out she was pregnant and from what I understand her family were very supportive. We didn't have any youth clubs or councilors at our school.

It seams sad that things go so far.

fluffywhitekittens Wed 03-Oct-12 19:32:44

I don't really have anything to add as dc are younger.

GW297 Wed 03-Oct-12 19:51:10

Good on Aviva for raising money and awareness. Being a teenager can be such a tough time and some children have such terrible home lives. I hope everyone posts etc.

TheAngelshavetheOod Wed 03-Oct-12 19:58:09

I'm working with a few teens who aren't living with their parents. Through parental choice and the child's left home voluntarily ( could be classed as run away ?). There's many more homeless teens than you actually realise.

LineRunner Wed 03-Oct-12 19:58:44

I hope that George Osborne will put his hand in his pocket also.

goldygumdrops Wed 03-Oct-12 20:00:51

I rememeber thinking about running away as a child. I was very depresse. My parents didn't have a clue.

RubyrooUK Wed 03-Oct-12 20:05:21

My friend ran away from home when a teenager because she could not bear her life with her very very very strict parents. Luckily she had friends to rely on and spent the next few months being cared for by various people and their mums and dads if not her parents. She was prepared to sleep rough but many adults stepped up to the plate and gave her a temporary home.

Her parents essentially needed counselling to help them and my friend work out an acceptable way to live. My friend was not allowed any freedoms and her parents simply wanted to protect her from life but had gone completely OTT.

But before her parents came to accept this (and to their credit they did get family counselling and moved on to some extent) they spent months not knowing where their 14/15 year old daughter was. It was very sad.

thisthreadwilloutme Wed 03-Oct-12 20:13:55

I have a very vivid memory from my childhood which has always stayed with me. When I was about 5 I woke up one morning to find out that my Mum had stayed up late the night before (we lived in a quiet village) and had answered a knock at the door at one in the morning. Stood in front of her was a soaked 12 year old who had walked 5 miles over fields having run away from home. My Mum brought him into the house, gave him a hot drink and talked to him. He was basically just going through normal teenage problems and had run away, however the heavy rain and long walk had made him have second thoughts. My mum talked to him for an hour about her teenage years and by the end he asked to go home. My mum called his family and drove him home. He sent chocolates a week later and a letter saying he was happy and things were much better at home.

My mum could have ignored the door, she could have sent him away, but she saw in that boy her own two sons and hoped that if they were ever in a similar situation someone would care enough to help them out. I often think about that boy and hope that he was happy and my mum sometimes speaks about him so I know she thinks about him too.

I would like to see more information out there for young people who are thinking about running away and support for those who already have. This campaign is a great start to publicise the fantastic work of The Railway Children. Hopefully it will help raise lots of money for this great cause and help out lots of children in real need.

UntamedShrew Wed 03-Oct-12 20:48:49

Two shiny pounds, you say?
does this count?

Asmywhimsytakesme Wed 03-Oct-12 21:16:34


euwa Wed 03-Oct-12 21:25:26

Wrote a short paragraph and for some reason had problems and it has not appeared. Can't re-write but want to the £2 donation to be added. I did try.

VivaLeBeaver Wed 03-Oct-12 21:26:23

I ran away from home when I was about 13. My mum was a nasty, abusive, violent cow. I slept in a graveyard and was picked up by the police and taken home. They never asked me why I'd run away.

poppy283 Wed 03-Oct-12 21:26:50

My best friend ran away from her controlling parents to my house when we were 14. They came to get her the next day though.
She went off the rails a bit after that and ended up being sent back to her native country.

ZigZagWanderer Wed 03-Oct-12 21:34:30

I planned to run away when I was aged 9 - 13.
I was always being picked on at school, always fought with siblings and a bit neglected by parents.
I planned to run to my gran 80 miles away. I knew the buses I would need to get then the underground route.
I never got money to do it but if I felt sad I would fantasise about it. I even had a grab bag ready.
Things got better when I left school, home life was calmer and i just forgot about it.
I wished to live with my gran though, I missed her so much.
I wasn't aware of ANY child service at the time, but looking back I probably would have bottled it even if I had a real chance.

Thanks Aviva. smile

SarryB Wed 03-Oct-12 21:40:45

Replying just for the £2 donation.

OliviaPeaceAndLoveMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 21:43:08


Two shiny pounds, you say?
does this count?

No. Sorry grin
Donations will only count for posts about running away, please.
BUT if you'd like a super easy way to donate, just clicking 'recommend' will also donate two incredibly shiny pounds.

Sorry not to be clearer.

StellaAndFries Wed 03-Oct-12 22:25:41

I was very lucky and had an uneventful childhood and never ran away from home, however my parents are foster carers and have taken in children for respite or emergency care who have run away from home. I never realised how large the problem was until they were carers.

OliviaPeaceAndLoveMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-12 22:33:53


I too didn't realise that number of kids ran away - but what is counted as running away? I still remember my little brother disappearing for a couple of hours one afternoon, probably aged about 5. He was in the garage attic. Did he run away? Or are we talking kids who disappear for a few days, and the police are involved?

Actually, thinking about that, the neighbours kid, and her mate from up the road disappearing fora few days. The police were involved at that point, but they hadn't gone far, and I saw them wandering down the road on about day 3, and told school that morning, when they were promptly found. Don't know why I didn't tell my parents there and then!

Hi NextPhase
On the survey Aviva point out that "'Running away from home' is defined by the charity Railway Children as a child spending one night or more away from home without parental permission. "

Hope this helps

PiousPrat Wed 03-Oct-12 23:01:52

I can well believe it is a massive problem. Back when I was in high school (not really the dim and distant past, mid 90s) I can remember 5 kids running away just off the top of my head. I'm sure there were probably more that I either didn't know or have forgotten. In at least 3 cases, half the school knew where the child in question was, usually in someone's bottom of the garden hang out or a farm outbuilding. In those 3 cases though, we also all know they were better off sleeping in a barn than being at home sad

Official options weren't really known about then, especially for good kids with bad parents. In that respect it seems little has changed in 50 years. My Nan had 7 kids of her own but spent about 15 years having at least 8 children living with her, despite several of her own growing up and moving out by then. Some of them were troubled kids, some had crappy home lives, some were just having problems for a while and needed a bit of space. There was absolutely nothing for most of them other than to hope they got taken in by someone.

I sincerely hope that Aviva's donation helps the Railway Children make a positive difference.

DoubleYew Wed 03-Oct-12 23:11:37

I remember when my brother ran away when I was about 7 or 8. He was (supposed to be) at boarding school so my parents tried to hide it from me but I found it very frightening as they did not explain what was happening. It affects the whole family, not just the parents.

SirBoobAlot Thu 04-Oct-12 00:20:34

I nearly ran away several times. One of my then friends left and came back (or rather, was returned by the police) several times. To be honest he's 22 now and still not really back on track.

There needs to be more support for the individuals and the families, as I watched them falling apart too.

Is 17 classed as a child? When I was 17 I went to my parttime job one sunday and just never went home. I had nowhere to go. No money. But I couldnt face home anymore.

My parents never called the police. When I changed my mind four days later and asked to go home my mum laid out a list of "conditions" which were farsical. I declined. I moved in with estranged family (who I hadnt seen for 7 years) and got on with my life.

Im 25 now, for a while I did speak to my parents again. But a leopard never changes its spots. I have cut them out of my life.

I never considered it running away, but people who know about it do.

Lavenderhoney Thu 04-Oct-12 06:16:36

I ran away when I was 9. Lying in bed listening to drunken shouting couldn't stand it anymore. Packed 2 carriers with my favourite books, went down stairs, put my anorak on over my nightie, got my Welles on as it was raining, climbed out the lounge window - they were so busy shouting in the kitchen didn't notice. Set off up the fields to the woods. Peace at last apart from the rain. My sister found me an hour later- she was 17- and took me home, into the kitchen where they were raging at each other. Cue new row about who was worst parent not to notice I had gone. Was shouted at and sent to bed, but door locked. Ran away again at 16, but had organised myself a live in job at the other end of the country. Shame really as I had a good place at college and wanted to go, but could not face living at home. There was no other option. They never discussed it with me, either episode. People with normal parents have no idea. None. Still feel envious of others with great mums and dads. The school were hopeless, just wanted to bring parents in. Why do people assume parents will admit a mistake and not take it out n kids at home?

Yy to people here saying that families need help within the unit. My sister ran away age 14 - I was 8. She was returned with a polite 'here you go', and no one seemed interested either in cause or effect. Perhaps as on the surface we were a naice middle class family, dad in eminent job, mum a SAHM. What could possibly be wrong?
I remember very little of exactly what happrned, but it was a tough time for everyone, siblings included.

ajandjjmum Thu 04-Oct-12 07:17:47

I remember running away on several occasions - normally just for an hour or so, when I set up camp under a tree in the garden. Although once I had to come back because I'd missed the bus! I remember with blush though one occasion when I ran away, and actually went to our next door neighbour's house. We lived on a hill, and I watched my parents cars drive up and down the road and across the common, looking for me.

I have in my drawer a note my DS left once when he was around 5 - it reads 'I just want to say goodbye'.

Thinking about those who have DC missing at the moment, and hoping for their safe return.

BumptiousandBustly Thu 04-Oct-12 07:54:29

When I was at school someone ran away - got about 60 miles away, but when stopped by the police gave his real name, so was brought straight home. (This is the story as gathered by a 14 year old as gossip).

i remember he was one of the more troubled kids (but this is in a very very middleclass area - so troubled is pushing it) but did manage to burn down the cricket pavilion by trying to light his own farts!

glitch Thu 04-Oct-12 08:13:58

I ran away when I was younger but only for a few hours. My mum was frantic though.
I think we forget as we get older just how hard it is to talk to someone when you are young and feeling troubled.

runawaychanger Thu 04-Oct-12 09:14:21

I ran off when I was 14 - not so much running away as couldn't take it any more after yet another disapproving lecture from my mother, got the train to London as I often did to go shopping for the day, and just really didn't want to go back, so phoned a friend who lived in another city and asked to come and stay sometime - er, like as soon as possible.

Fortunately her lovely mother said yes, see you tomorrow morning. I'd missed the last train. I ended up spending the night in the Old Compton Cafe in Soho as one of the few places that was open, with various elderly gay men buying me tea. Stayed a few days with my friend, went home, and was a bit more organised in future - never stayed more than two consecutive nights under my parents' roof until moving out after A-levels.

Thing is, my parents were perfectly decent people - my father was away a lot and has no idea how to deal with emotions, my mother was there and had the odd episode where the menopause sent her hormones bonkers, but the main issue was I was gay and this was an unmentionable topic - while my parents said they had no problem with "those sorts of people", the disapproval oozed out and I felt even more alienated than the average teenager with older clueless parents.

I was lucky - this was the year section 28 came in and many LGBT people experienced being kicked out by their families, or worse. Hasn't got that much better since - a huge proportion of runaways are LGBT and are too scared to seek most help. There's some wonderful organisations like the Albert Kennedy Trust but they are tiny. And like someone said, cuts to youth services have really screwed up organisations' ability to work together.

I kind of ran away when I was a teenager. I spent about a 5 weeks living with my (ex)BIL and nephew. My parents knew where I was because BIL phoned them but I just didn't want to go home.

I wouldn't say I was 'troubled' but I needed space for a bit. Both grandfathers died fairly close to each other (my first experience of death as well), moved house from where I had spent my whole life, started high school, Dsis moved out to start Uni and a hefty dose of hormones on top of it all.

My parents were worried about me and came to visit me once a week or so. They have never been abusive or neglectful and they were hurt that I didn't want to come home.

I was very lucky that I had somewhere to go, and that my BIL looked after me. I don't know what I would have done/gone if he wasn't able or willing to do it.

DS is 3, and I don't know what I would do if he ran away. Being the other side must be utterly heartbreaking.

gazzalw Thu 04-Oct-12 09:56:42

I think I must live in a sheltered world because not sure that I have ever known anyone (knowingly) who has run away from home. As I said I vaguely considered it as a tween but really only because I'd had a row with my parents. I had a 'halcyon' view of living in a wooden shed with plenty of food and books - you can tell I hadn't thought it thro! Where would I have got the food from?

I would be interesting to know what the stats are about 'runaways' socio-demographically, by cultural/ethnic background, parts of country where it happens most etc.... I would assume it happens more from large urban areas just because it's easier to lose oneself but could be very wrong...

It's horrible though to think of so many vulnerable youngsters putting themselves in even more vulnerable places....

DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:00

Every post you say?

DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:22


DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:35


DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:46


DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:15:59


MaryZed Thu 04-Oct-12 10:17:02

No Fanny, sorry. Olivia clarified ^^ up there - they have to be posts about running away.

worldgonecrazy Thu 04-Oct-12 10:25:46

As many have posted, there is "running away" as a right of passage, when we have a fall out with our parents, hide in the local park/garage for an hour, get hungry and go home.

Then there is the real problem "run away", which I think is what this thread is actually about. The children who are running away from disfunctional and broken families because they feel that homelessness and dangerous streets are a better option than what they have within their family.

I'd like to see early intervention to support those families, and also better care for those who cannot, for whatever reason, live with their families. The fact that most children in care homes end up with drug problems, or working as prostitutes, thieves, burglars and eventually homeless, is something that should make this nation hang its head in shame.

DameFanny Thu 04-Oct-12 10:59:11


In my defence I have a Lurgy.

And couldn't run away if I tried.

littletingoddess Thu 04-Oct-12 11:26:31

My younger sister threatened to run away when she was about 10, following a row with our mother. She stormed out of the house and walked quickly down our drive (we lived on quite a lot of land in the states, our drive was a good 1/4 of a mile). She left onto the road and walked in the direction of the highway. At this point, I decided to go get her, as she was stubborn and angry enough to go who knows where with whoever she could find. I caught up with her as she was walking on the side of the highway and talked her into going back home. We all made light of it at the time, but sometimes I do wonder...

Fast forward to now and thanks to me, my daughter is a dual national with two passports. She's only an infant but sometimes I do wonder if we should keep her passports locked away, just in case she thinks about getting away when she's older. It's really scary. I had no idea that so many children run away and like previous posters have mentioned, I wonder what the socio-demographic stats are? Not being able to locate a child seems to be the darkest, bleakest nightmare that any parent could experience. sad

curlywurl Thu 04-Oct-12 11:36:29

Very important topic thanks for setting this up

I have to agree that support needs to be more forthcoming.

Three years before I left I broke down in school. I remember having a few "counselling" sessions with my HOY and explaining to her about what was happening at home. But because I wasnt being sexually or physically abused nothing ever happened. My parents werent even informed.

Tbh if someone looked at my school record and counted the amount of trips to sick bay and times I had to leave early added to that break down I think they would ask why something hadnt been done. I was a very unhappy person for years.

Labootin Thu 04-Oct-12 14:10:02

there was a girl in my school who was taken into care, (her mother had got a new boyfriend who "didn't do kids")

The home she was sent to (this was the early nineties it has since closed) was horrific
She ran away many times but always picked up by the police and returned.

She was a lovely girl but it destroyed her, dodgy boyfriends (much older) then drugs and it was rumoured prostitution and one day never returned (she would have been 15 at the time)

I'd like to think it all worked out for her and that she ran away and found happiness (and streets paved with gold) but I don't think that's very realistic .

It was never as far as I know reported in the media. She just disappeared and no one appeared to give a shit.

HiHowAreYou Thu 04-Oct-12 14:39:48

I always feel very sad when you see the missing people posters up in train stations or supermarkets.
When you see the occasional child. And you think "Why is this one not all over the news? Only eleven. Where has she gone? Did nobody really care?" and she isn't in the news at all, ever, just a picture in the supermarket for a few weeks, then forgotten.
Awful. sad

NorbertDentressangle Thu 04-Oct-12 14:57:53

I worked in a childrens home around 20 years ago and we had frequent 'absconders' as they were called then.

The majority would run to the same people or place every time. These were often completely unsafe and unsuitable places and people too - eg. drugs and alcohol freely available, criminal activity that gave the money, older 'boyfriends' sad.

In the more extreme cases you would have young people who would be returned by the police via the front door and minutes later would have absconded again via the back door - this would go on and on day after day, week after week.

Our hands would be tied as we weren't allowed to physically stop them and, for the young person, the place they were running to would be more appealing than the childrens home. Some of these cases would have a secure order taken out on them to try and break the pattern of running away and to enable work to be carried out with them to address their issues.

I often wonder what the situation is like in childrens homes nowadays.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Thu 04-Oct-12 15:02:52

When I was 15 I ended up being 'fostered' by a family friend. She was an absolute nightmare, and I realise now I was seriously depressed. I walked out of the house and to my grandparents in my school uniform. If I hadn't had them to go to, I don't know what I would have done. I only saw the woman once more, when I went back to collect my belongings.

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Thu 04-Oct-12 15:04:45

I hope that pastoral care has improved at school - I changed guardian twice in 6 weeks and the year head didn't blink an eyelid. I was often off sick and didn't do homework - it would have helped me immensely if anyone had noticed and told me that they cared.

I'm grateful my grandparents were there.

UnChartered Thu 04-Oct-12 16:17:31

i used to practice at running away from home, most weekends i'd pack a bag and go 'exploring', a sarnie, an OS map and jam jar full of squash

i'd have fantasies about living in one of those tiny brick huts you see by the side of railways or in the middle of fields, am still intrigued by them even now.

my grandma lived a long, long way away from me...i never made it to hers but left home legally at 16 instead

CaptainHetty Thu 04-Oct-12 16:34:15

I was never aware of the scale of the amount of runaway children, I suppose I quite naively assumed because some of them get such high media attention and public support that all cases would be the same. I'm guessing a lot of the children who run go back home quite quickly or are found by family, friends or the police, and therefore no big searches ever get underway?

I did disappear a couple of times as a teen. My family weren't dysfunctional, or abusive, I was always a well cared for child and never went without. Unfortunately I had a lot of issues including school phobias and avoidance, which caused my parents no end of stress and bother, and I didn't know who/where I could talk about what I felt or needed, and ultimately I ended up thinking I'd make everyone's lives easier if I just went.

ValentineWiggins Thu 04-Oct-12 16:54:34

Nothing to add except £2

TheProvincialLady Thu 04-Oct-12 18:44:16

My cousin ran away at 14 and came back pregnantsad It has blighted her life. Another cousin ran away and became a prostitute. A terrible waste of two lives.

I wouldn't have recognised myself as a runaway until I read the warning signs. I spent LOADS of time at friends' and relations' houses, anywhere except home.

VintageEbonyGuitar Thu 04-Oct-12 18:57:09

Well I suppose I was a typical troubled teen. Well off family, own business, alcoholic pedo step father.

After the first "rape" at 12, I ran away and wasn't noticed for 6months, thanks to the family who took me in.

I ran away again at 13 but to not get caught I'd go home every few days and move clothes/eat food.

At 15 I was kicked out, whole other story not even worth £2

VintageEbonyGuitar Thu 04-Oct-12 18:57:44

Well I suppose I was a typical troubled teen. Well off family, own business, alcoholic pedo step father.

After the first "rape" at 12, I ran away and wasn't noticed for 6months, thanks to the family who took me in.

I ran away again at 13 but to not get caught I'd go home every few days and move clothes/eat food.

At 15 I was kicked out, whole other story not even worth £2

VintageEbonyGuitar Thu 04-Oct-12 19:02:35

Ooo does it give double money for double posts doubts it

As a homeless 15yo though, I was the only idiot sleeping in alleyways, dodging the public toilet attendant to wash and going into school for a time.

I ran away when I was younger, about 7 years old because I had to cycle home whilst the rest of my family were driven back by my grandad, I felt so silly as they drove at 5mph next to me that I buggared off.
I also had a plan of running away when I was a teen due to abuse issues but didnt carry them out, but did get kicked out of home at 16, my mum told me she wanted me to be gone when she got back from work. I went to my boyfriends, now my lovely dh grin
She still says she didnt kick me out, but I will never forget her words.
So I guess to her I ran away as she changed the past. hmm

gazzalw Thu 04-Oct-12 19:40:38

I feel very sad to hear these testimonials from Mumsnetters who have experienced running away.....sad. But good to hear that you made it to adulthood....some obviously don't ....

hermioneweasley Thu 04-Oct-12 19:49:53

I think it's worrying that there's no safety net for runaway kids.

Thinkability Thu 04-Oct-12 20:26:50

I'm aware of 'Rerun' in North Dorset and they help with mediation between kids and parents. The school counsellor at the high school helped when my friends daughter had stayed away from home and was threatening to go off again.

I think there are more people to help and understand these days but budgets are limited.

Thanks Aviva

Offred Thu 04-Oct-12 20:52:45

I ran away a lot as teen. I was very unhappy and there were a lot of long standing issues coming to a head with my parents. I worry about my 7 year old who is having some difficult emotional issues at the moment and often says he will leave but when I have spoken to him he says he doesn't mean it, he is just trying to tell me how bad he feels. I hope he won't be a teen runaway. I've tried hard to avoid the mistakes my parents made.

I'm not sure that Railway Children are as well known an organisation as they deserve to be.

The only experience I have had of runaway teens was a classmate going missing at high school. Turns out he was being beaten by his stepfather who had stolen his only shoes so that he couldn't run away. But he did, barefoot, for miles.

He has a great life now but so so difficult as a teen. If charities like this were more prevalent then it might have helped somewhat.

gazzalw Fri 05-Oct-12 08:07:38

I'd never heard of Railway Children (except in the context of the film/book of that name) charity before this thread was posted up so it's not really 'out there'

lockitt Fri 05-Oct-12 09:35:51

My guardians split up when I was around 13, I was left with my 'father' who took it quite badly and began drinking and taking it out on me physically as he was scared his other son and daughter would leave to go with their mum. I had to walk around on egg shells as if I even as much shut the door too hard or soft he would kick off.

He once kicked me out over the school holidays at 14 so I went to stay at a friends (her mum knew what was going on but nobody really stepped in) After 2 weeks, the police came to pick me up and told me I had been a very silly girl for running away! Then they asked if he had hit me, they told me if he had, I would be taken into care. I replied "what a choice, I will wait until I am 16 thank you and move out on my own"

At 15 just a few months before my GCSEs, he kicked me out again as I was half an hour late back from my waitressing job (that I had to take as I dare not even ask for money for sanitary products!) as a table were taking their time leaving and I had to wait for them to clean up afterwards. This time he was really violent and kicked me down the stairs and destroyed all of my GCSE art course work. I managed to get to a phone and call my grandma who came to pick me up from 15 miles away.

He tried to get me to come home but I refused and got my own place as soon as I turned 16. I stayed on the floor at my lovely grandma's and travelled for 3 hours everyday to school to complete my GCSEs.

It's funny looking back as my teachers knew what was going, especially as I once came to school with a black eye and broke down begging when they caught me smoking not to tell my dad (they didnt!) I think because I lived in a nice middle class area in a 4 bed house, people turned a blind eye. As I got older I learnt that people were referred to social workers for a lot less than I went through!

In the end I was lucky and a hardworking ethic meant I wasnt phased by working 3 or 4 different jobs to support myself and get through college and uni. My first 3 years of living alone I didnt even have a fridge or washing machine so it has made me more appreciative of things especially as I have had to work really really hard for every thing I have.

This is a great campaign to get people talking about this and raising awareness and hopefully it will filter to young people who need the Railway Children's support this winter.

WowOoo Fri 05-Oct-12 09:47:42

I remember a boy in school repeatedly ran away from home.

There were lots of issues. But I remember being most shocked as our school said they'd have to expel him as he was absent from school so much and also because he claimed to have left home and did not have a permanent address.
As far as I can recall they used to take him home and then he'd leave. Anything to get away from his step father. He's spend the nights on people's sofas and also slept rough when no where else to go.

He was 17. I can't believe they (school and social services) didn't support him more. I really hope that things have changed for the better. This was in the early 80's.

TroublesomeEx Fri 05-Oct-12 10:33:02

I didn't run away but I fantasized about it several times.

I was an incredibly unhappy child - of the 'Stately Homes' variety rather than the obvious abuse variety.

My confidence and self worth were undermined to the extent that I didn't really believe I'd be able to run away successfully so I just made myself as small and insignificant as possible in the hope I'd be ignored.

I sent out some fairly major signals at school that all was not well but in those days I don't think teachers were as aware.

There needs to be more support all round to understand what children are going through at home, and to identify the risks and put support in place before they reach crisis point.

Kendodd Fri 05-Oct-12 11:34:11

I ran away from home just days after my sixteenth birthday, I had waited until sixteen because I knew I'd have more rights by then and couldn't just be bought back against my will so easily. The wait until sixteen was agonizing, the worse time of my life, I was so unhappy I felt almost suicidal, the only thing that gave me hope was the light at the end of the tunnel which was my sixteenth birthday, I couldn't have waited until eighteen.

Running away was the best decision I ever made and I have never regretted it for a single second. I'm sorry my parents suffered from not knowing where I was for a time but they wouldn't let me go willingly so I had no choice but to run away. I do realize that I was lucky though that nothing bad happened to me, beyond being homeless for some time. I'm also thankful that I was able to get some state benefits to feed myself with, I'm not sure it would be so easy these days. I got a job in a bakery (hundreds of miles away from my parents) and remember thinking how unfair it was that I was paid about half of what the adults were paid for doing exactly the same job even though the other women who worked there just worked part time for a bit of extra money while I had rent and bills to pay. I think I lived on free buns from the bakery because I couldn't afford to by food!

I'm 43 now and since running away from home I've had a great life.

popsnsqeeze Fri 05-Oct-12 14:24:10

I threatened to run away from my (I though) quite strict parents. I never did and I'm extremely grateful that my reasons to leave were more to do with teenage angst than the very real abuse etc mentioned on this thread.

Lua Fri 05-Oct-12 15:19:15

It is very scary to think about it. I had a rebel streak when I was young, and I can see it in my dd as she gets closer to teen years. If I am hones, i had a pampered life and am not sure why I ever considered. Pampered enough that I never did it. But doe sthis stop everyone else? It would be good to have more info about what motivates it, and how to keep an open dialogue.

Any posters have gone through it, and can share their toughts and motivations

DutchOma Fri 05-Oct-12 16:26:10

Our dd ran away from home several times from the age of not quite 16 till she was about 19.
Still can't figure out quite why, she said she had no 'privacy', maybe she was right, I don't know.
We are on good terms now, mostly...

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 05-Oct-12 16:26:43

Hello. Thanks so much for all your posts so far.

Aviva/Railway Children have asked us to come back with some info in relation to the points raised by gazzalw earlier in the thread.

You can find detail on the characteristics of runaways and the geographical variations in their hometowns in The Children's Society 2011 report, Still Running 3.

And you can read a report about the Railway Children's research into the situations experienced by children who'd been living on the streets for four weeks or longer.

Hope that's helpful smile

gazzalw Fri 05-Oct-12 16:31:55


quoteunquote Fri 05-Oct-12 19:18:53

All runaways need a safe destination, somewhere they can reassess their options.

You get a lot of runaways turning up on (new age) traveler site, they are always fed and supported, you would be very surprised at how many of the community originate out of the care system, or from foul homes, it's one of the reason it is such a strong community, because of personal history they have created a supported family.

some of the stories of friends who have been through this are horrific,

It annoys me when I hear out and out hatred for the travelling community, when if you analysed who makes up the community, it is full of ex care children, runaways, ex squaddies, who have failed to cope with life after army, often gone straight from care into the army, a very tolerant community to others in need.

It's amazing how many people slip through the net, I have several friends, who were never looked for, despite running at an early age, no one has ever missed that left their families,

We are at the end of the festival season, there will be teens who have gone through the summer by working the festivals, now wondering how to survive, with the new squatting laws those options this winter are far more limited.

VintageEbonyGuitar Fri 05-Oct-12 22:37:37

Can I just be an axe grinding keyboard terrorist for a wee mo?

1). Slight discrepencies in dates on the railway children website. What year was it actually founded as there are two different years stated I'm pathetic I know

2). The statement "The reality is that many of the children who go to the project had first chosen to sleep rough rather than access statutory services" is just ever so slightly a lot patronising to the children who most probably did try to source help before they ran away.

Loopy4got Sun 07-Oct-12 08:32:19

Survey completed. Would be devasted if this were ever to happen. I have a pre teen and that is challenging in its own way.

Offred Sun 07-Oct-12 12:15:00

I don't know vintage. I never tried to source help because I actually genuinely didn't know there was any nevermind knowing where I might go to get it. I only discovered benefits existed at age 19 after being homeless for over a year and not living at home for any significant period in 3 years.

Offred Sun 07-Oct-12 12:19:09

I tried to call childline a few times when I was 12 but it was busy and I never called again. Apart from that school I suppose I tried to get help from but they didn't help and only made things worse and college just kicked me out because of their stats without giving me any help. The GP was not helpful either - this was all before I left/was kicked out. After I had run away I didn't consider that there might be help available and I doubt I would have taken it because I think they would have tried to make me go back home.

VintageAxeWeldingPboredWarrior Sun 07-Oct-12 13:07:57

Have nc'd

My 1st school were aware of issues, I was hospitalised for attempted suicide and had to attend councelling, I also contacted childline and got through but only managed to cry so the operater presumed I was messing around and hung up after telling me off

The police picked me up twice, first time they took me home, second time they let me sleep in the sargents office

Ss only got involved after I was 15 and 2nd school had started feeding me. I had learnt no one would help by then feral

Doyouthinktheysaurus Sun 07-Oct-12 13:34:48

Some very sad stories on here.

I work as a Mental Health Nurse and have heard so many sad stories of troubled and abusive upbringings, running away, sleeping rough, parents that didn't care. It can be so damaging and have a life long impact on people's mental health.

I think running away from home, even if they return safe and well is a huge red flag and should be followed up in terms of offering emotional support and guidance.

I never ran away but I had a pretty unhappy childhood (nothing specific)and left as soon as the opportunity arose. Best decision I ever made. I really hope I am a better parent and my own children don't ever feel pushed to the point of running away or desperate to leave home.

Dawndonna Sun 07-Oct-12 16:04:42

I ran away from home loads as a child. Wish someone nice had found me a nice place to live.

gazzalw Mon 08-Oct-12 09:57:06

Just read the report kindly flagged up by HelenMumsnet further up the thread. It makes for very sad reading, particularly that roughly 36% of runaways in the most recent study were under 13!!! Our DS (11 going on 12) is so unworldly in some ways, although not in others, that he wouldn't have a clue how to look after himself out on the streets.... It really is an awful thing to contemplate for any child particularly if they are in crisis....

BoerWarKids Tue 09-Oct-12 14:32:31

I ran away once as a teenager. My mum had to call the police and I still feel so sick and ashamed at the worry she must have gone through sad

ICutMyFootOnOccamsRazor Thu 11-Oct-12 23:40:08

I never realised at all the scale of this issue. If your stats are correct then that's very frightening and sad.

I think this is a thing that every parent assumes they will never have to deal with.

OhWesternWind Fri 12-Oct-12 13:58:36

So sad that children are driven to take such extreme action and put themselves at risk. Even in supportive families there can be such pressure from other areas of life (school, friends) that sometimes I guess it can seem the only way forward.

whatinthewhatnow Fri 12-Oct-12 18:15:03

marking my place for £2? Is that allowed?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Fri 12-Oct-12 19:24:14

Hesterton that was an incredibly moving post.

My opposite neighbour temporary fosters older children. She is amazing, and there is often a flurry of furniture in and out as her numbers and situation alter.
She must do a fabulous job because lots of them come back to see her regularly once they have moved on and are working and settled.

I have never asked her, but I do wonder how many homes those kids have run away from before they end up with her and seem to finally find some stability.

WorldOfMeh Fri 12-Oct-12 22:19:03

Only got 5 minutes: been offline for a while, and only just seen this. It's good to see more is being done these days.

I ran away when I was 15 (though to be honest was living all over the place for a good year before). Like other people I suppose, no-one imagined it was anything else but me being 'difficult'. (Nice, articulate parents and all that.) To an extent, perhaps that is accurate- but the truth is, I don't know if I would still be alive if I hadn't. My father had mental health issues which used to make him try to commit suicide while taking the rest of the family along with him. Tidier.

I can't add much more, right now- but I was lucky to be able to have tapped into the traveller/squatting fraternity as well. Not without its dodgy paedo characters, but better than most of the alternatives. I worry about the current runaway kids more, now. sad

gazzalw Sat 13-Oct-12 10:41:36

This appears to be quite a slow moving thread and I personally believe that this reflects an issue that a lot of parents feel uncomfortable even thinking about. It's a bit of a taboo subject and this probably explains why it's come as such a shock to most of us that the number of runaways is so high.

caramelwaffle Sat 13-Oct-12 11:13:47

I agree with QOD. Bring back council run youth clubs with additional support.

Happybunny12 Sat 13-Oct-12 12:45:09

I remember planning my runaway scenario in my head when I was younger. It was always glamorous and led to me having an amazing adventure and being discovered as an actress or some such nonsense. But I remember several older kids/teenager TV shows ran runaway storylines which showed the darker side including violence, drugs, abuse... Also books. Pretty sure this scared me enough to never mean the fantasy became a real option. This kind of education is vital I reckon.

fosterdream Sat 13-Oct-12 14:20:23


Caladria Sat 13-Oct-12 14:31:25

@Worldofmeh, why do you worry about current kids more?

WorldOfMeh Sat 13-Oct-12 14:37:12

Caladria - mainly because of the change to the law re: squatting. The more that the people on 'the fringes' are cracked down on, the fewer safe havens there are to go to. Pretty much as someone said upthread. Those were the people that looked out for me, though there was the odd wrong 'un too, I suppose..!

My niece threatened running away too, though- and somehow to be honest she, and her friends seemed so much more naive and less streetwise than we were that the thought of it horrified me. Maybe every generation feels that way about the next, though.

quoteunquote that is interesting about the new age travellers, as that is my experience.

I walked out of home at 16, halfway through my A levels. I went to London to live with my dad but made the mistake of not asking him first and arrived to find he was out of the country. I slept rough for a few nights, then got picked up by a young man who had recently been housed after being on the streets himself. Luckily for me, he was a decent bloke - he fed me, talked some sense into me and then bought me a train ticket home the next day.

I went back but didn't go home, instead stayed with various friends for a few months and then packed a bag and went to live on a road protest site. From there I spent several years living on traveller sites and in squats, always finding friends and a bed. Its a tight community (despite being geographically spread out) and a pretty safe one IME, contrary to what people often believe (though as WoldOfMeh says it is not without its dodgy members). It is indeed full of runaways from all walks of life - ex-army and care leavers do make up a disproportionately large part of the community.

I'm housed now, safely and securely, and have two gorgeous children. But we are still very close to many people I met in those times and live in a community that grew out of the same scene.

ninah Sat 13-Oct-12 19:47:42

I hope residential care for children has improved since the 80s - it seems to be more talked about, and that can only be good. For about a year I was in a unit for what I suppose they call EBDS nowadays - another girl ran away and I had so much respect for her, being too spineless myself.
Agree with the traveller accounts - I've met people while working at festivals that are thoughtful non conformists and part of a real community

ninah Sat 13-Oct-12 19:48:53


ninah Sat 13-Oct-12 19:49:04


joanofarchitrave Sat 13-Oct-12 20:01:26

some very thought-provoking posts on this thread. I have heard of The Railway Children due to frequent rail travel in the past, I was always pleased to think that someone was looking out for children who are drifting. I have sat up/dozed through a couple of nights at railway stations and they were scary for an adult, never mind a child.

I had a very happy childhood but still did the putting an apple and a toy into a bag aged ?7 and walking maybe 10 feet down the street. I was furious about something I've forgotten entirely, but I remember my mum being extra warm when i came back.

DS hasn't run away thank goodness, but dh once went missing for five days. The idea that ds might do anything similar is terrifying - it was the worst time of my life.

edam Sat 13-Oct-12 21:09:54

My Dad helps to raise money for the Railway Children. He went to see them in India - the stories of what children go through there, and the tiny, tiny children living on the streets are just horrific. He was talking about children under five living in the station and looking after other children under five - unbelievable.

(That doesn't detract at all from the horrific things that happen in this country at all - it doesn't negate one form of tragedy to say another also exists.)

WorldOfMeh Sat 13-Oct-12 22:01:51

edam - I didn't mention that I'd seen the flyers some time ago for this particular charity. Albeit that the scale of tragedies in our world are set by the limits of our experience? I felt humbled in every sense of the world.

However, I did contact a U.K. 'runaway' charity to offer my services in any capacity I could apart from directly financial- and never heard back.

Your Dad sounds lovely. You should be proud of him.

Catmint Sat 13-Oct-12 22:08:02

Hope this post is £2 worth

MaryMotherOfCheeses Sat 13-Oct-12 22:12:27

Come on MNers.

£2k is nothing to Aviva if we got this to 1,000 posts.

Or do you think this isn't worth posting about?

Catmint Sat 13-Oct-12 22:15:19

I work for a charity which occasionally comes into contact with young people who have run away. Their stories are heartbreaking.

MaryZed Sat 13-Oct-12 22:18:28

It's like a lot of things, Mary, it isn't something that people think about if it doesn't happen to them sad.

And then in the awful circumstances that it does happen, they have more to cope with than posting about it, or raising money for it, sadly.

TheCrackFox Sat 13-Oct-12 22:26:01

I think it is great that Aviva is helping such a worthwhile charity.

(on a separate note Aviva where very efficient when I cashed in an endowment last year.)

edam Sat 13-Oct-12 23:38:54

Thanks worldofmeh, it's complicated but he has his moments.

caramelwaffle Sat 13-Oct-12 23:42:38

An extra £2 to donate.

2MumsAreBetterThan1 Sun 14-Oct-12 01:07:52

This issue needs highlighting more.

It's one of those things people just don't think about and never expect it to happen.

I had never heard of railway children or realised so many children run away.

MAybe if a helpline, safe houses etc were publicised then children would have somewhere to turn before getting to the point of running away.

2MumsAreBetterThan1 Sun 14-Oct-12 01:13:25

One thing i would like to know is how is a run away identified?

As awful as it sounds how do you know they have runaway and not been taken, the ones missing for a long time i mean.

How on earth can such young children vanish and never be seen again, they must be supporting themselves somehow.

Fretty Sun 14-Oct-12 09:24:34

DS is still little so luckily have no first hand experience. However I am really shocked by the scale of the problem. Never realised before how many young kids are out there.

I honestly wouldn't know what to do or how to help if I was faced with a situation where parents or a runaway kid needed help. Raising general awareness is a good place to start for all charitable or government organisations involved.

So this is it for the 2quid ;-)

Redsilk Sun 14-Oct-12 10:28:33

When I was young, my parents took in a classmate of my brother who had run away from home. He had run into trouble with his father for doing drugs.
He stayed for a few weeks before returning home. Last I heard, he's now in prison. Still wish we could have done more for him.

Blu Sun 14-Oct-12 12:43:27

I was chair of a charity that undertakes particluar work with with homeless people. A large proportion of teen boys who left home had left because either their fathers had reacted violently to them coming out as gay, or being suspected of being gay, or else because of violence and or hostility from the new partner of their mother.

A large proportion of teen girls had fled because of sexual abuse, often from a mother's new partnr.

Trills Sun 14-Oct-12 12:45:20

Every contribution including this one?

Trills Sun 14-Oct-12 12:45:24

And this one?

Trills Sun 14-Oct-12 12:45:30

And this one?

Trills Sun 14-Oct-12 12:45:36

But not this one.

Blu Sun 14-Oct-12 12:46:53

Running away seems to be so intrinsically linked to a web of problems all of which demand separate solutions.

Sadly, running away rarely seems to improve any situation for young teens and often led them to worse situations than those they had fled.

Blu Sun 14-Oct-12 12:47:55

I have not known about the Railway Children, and will now click the link to check them out.

Well done AVIVA!

TicketToHull Sun 14-Oct-12 15:26:56

I'm glad to see Railway Children being publicised - was mentioned by someone on radio 4 I think and thought it sounded like a really good idea.

TicketToHull Sun 14-Oct-12 15:29:43

Blu I'm so saddened, but not surprised, to hear this.

ladygoldenlion Sun 14-Oct-12 17:43:27

My sister ran away when we were much younger - she finally walked in the door when it was dark but by that time the police were out looking for her.

I really support this initiative.

caramelwaffle Sun 14-Oct-12 18:03:42

My third post to make it up to £6

turnipvontrapp Sun 14-Oct-12 22:23:06

My DS age 8 ran away round the corner in a mood and hid in some trees. We found him quite quickly but still a bit heart stopping so well done aviva for supporting this.

EverybodysSpookyEyed Sun 14-Oct-12 22:39:01

Just wanted to bump for the £2!

Agree this sounds a great idea

edam Sun 14-Oct-12 23:03:18

I didn't just run away when I was little, I tried to take the whole street with me. <preens> My plot was only discovered when someone noticed the carrier bag hidden under the rosebush. My mother was very impressed that I'd packed toothbrushes and spare pants.

(I wasn't upset at home or anything, just wanted to go back to the village we'd just moved from to see my honorary Aunt and Uncle and thought it'd be nice to take all my friends as well.)

DeepPurple Sun 14-Oct-12 23:28:44

Bumping for the money

EduCated Mon 15-Oct-12 08:10:37

<Points up thread to where they said it has to be a proper post, not just a bump>

I've been thinking about this more and more. I live opposite a day centre for the homeless and I've been wondering about when children stop being runaways and start being homeless people. It must be an incredibly difficult cycle to break out of, and older teens must be in a far worse position of slipping through the net and bei g regarded as homeless, and intentionally so.

Trills Mon 15-Oct-12 08:23:39

"'Running away from home' is defined by the charity Railway Children as a child spending one night or more away from home without parental permission. "

Well if that's the definition then no wonder the stats are high. A child of divorced parents could tell mum they were with dad, tell dad they were with mum, and go stay with a friend. They'd be away from home without parental permission, but not "running away" in any way that we'd recognise. Or does it only count if the parents notice that they are not where they should be?

MaryZed Mon 15-Oct-12 08:56:47

That's a massive problem EduCated.

ds was 14 when he started running away. Theoretically, at 14, he should have been treated as a child. 16 is sort of the cut off point for child services (here in Ireland), and 18 is the start point for adult services.

The difficulty with kids who run away from home for no obvious reason is that they are likely to run away from wherever they are housed as they won't obey the rules of foster parents/care homes any more than they will their own parents.

So they tend to get put in more adult places. The only space ds was offered was a bed in an adult homeless hostel (at 14 shock).

MaryZed Mon 15-Oct-12 09:01:10

And one other thing - once a child has run away more than a couple of times, they become a "habitual runaway", and the police aren't interested.

The first couple of times ds didn't come home, the police helped us find him by driving around, checking out friends' houses (including a couple of the local drug dealers hmm) and bringing him home.

Once he had done it a couple of times, they refused to get involved. As far as they were concerned it was his choice (at 14, ffs, ridiculous).

With the result that when he went missing for 48 hours in the middle of winter, we were left on our own to find him, and in the end discovered him sleeping out in the local woods, soaked through and starving sad.

But again, it was "his choice" and there was nothing we could do.

His reason for running away, btw, was that he didn't want to obey our rules. And by that stage we had given up on any strict rules and were trying to get him to stop drinking and smoking dope, and to come home at night, that's all sad.

Trills Mon 15-Oct-12 09:27:20

"His choice"? At 14? How ridiculous.

Good to be reminded about this, the DCs are still young but it's something to consider for when they are a bit older.

I had never heard of Railway Children before this though.

noidles Mon 15-Oct-12 12:05:10

MaryMotherOfCheese I agree. I'm really shocked that more people haven't contributed. So many threads quickly get up to 1,000 posts on this site, and aviva are offering £2 per comment! That's up to £2000! That is nothing to Aviva, surely we can get the post count up?

When I completed the survey I was really shocked at the figures. I guess as someone above pointed out, it's just really hard to talk about, or maybe it's that people think it won't happen to them?

Oh, and OliviaMN pointed out above that posts only count if they contribute to the discussion, and no more than 3 times.

LittleTyga Mon 15-Oct-12 13:26:12

Every five minutes is a terrifying statistic - do we know how many of those are reunited? I can't imagine the fear of not knowing where your child is and whether they are safe. I hope Railway Children manage to raise lots of money to help these families find peace.

buttonmoon65 Tue 16-Oct-12 13:31:54

MY 15 year old ran away because i grounded her for getting drunk and staying out all night , parents can do nothing with unruly children for fear of being accused of abuse , its a nightmare

Reggieinkl Tue 16-Oct-12 13:32:40

This is a great cause. Well done Aviva.

Its sad that there are so many young people who feel that running away is their only option.

CalmingMiranda Tue 16-Oct-12 13:40:47

Very sorry for those of you who have experienced a child running away. The teen years are very hard.

And is it always that they see no other option? Where does the idea of running away come from? I saw running away as a glamorous thing to do, a big adventure, when I was a kid, maybe some teens just don't see how dangerous running away can be.

Very distressing, the 'own free will' response angry

CalmingMiranda Tue 16-Oct-12 13:43:48

Is there an Impact Report for Railway Children? How effective are they? Do they work in partnership witih other youth agencies? Was there a pilot project?

PrincessSymbian Tue 16-Oct-12 15:50:36

The first time I planned to runaway, about the age of thirteen or so, I got hit by a car on the way into school (was going to head somewhere after school as my parents were always at work for a couple of hours after school finished). I can't really remember what I had packed, apart from a hairbrush. I had fifty pounds in a bank account, how I thought I was going to survive on that, God knows.
The second time was at seventeen, my father, step-mother and I had a huge bust up, I was severely depressed but being told to get on with things. I tried to leave by the front door but my father would not let me, made me go into my room, which had a door into the back garden, so I waited until they were asleep and went out via the four or five gardens there were until you hit the street.
Never lived at home again.

Damn, missed the survey. I also can't do anything with this on Facebook as my dad would see it. I ran away aged 13; I'm 40 now and it's the one thing I've done in my life that makes me feel sick to think about it. I left at midnight, got picked up by people who looked after me for a couple of days. They were rough as hell, but were very good to me. The worst of it is that my parents weren't bad at all, and I wasn't an especially terrible teenager, we just lost the plot completely and could NOT communicate. It horrifies me to think the same could be only a few years down the line with DD.

PrincessSymbian Tue 16-Oct-12 19:01:47


CalmingMiranda Tue 16-Oct-12 19:38:28

Thank god you were safe, Don'tCallMeBaby. How did you meet them? Who were they?

I was doing research for a writing project once. Walking round central London all night. Cars cruising, offering to pick up lonely runaways. It was chilling. Remember Denis Neilson (?) who picked up young homeless people in a pub on Shaftesbuy Ave and then took them home and murdered them, in Muswell Hill? sad

WorldOfMeh Tue 16-Oct-12 21:11:25

Hello again everyone. OK, here's another post to boost the coffers... but I also have a serious point to make.

Not every kid that runs away is just being 'difficult'. It isn't always just some amusing 'I went as far as the bottom as the garden with a sandwich and 50p in my pocket because I wasn't allowed to watch my favourite cartoon' story. I suspect that the majority view on here will be that of parents- and you assume that other parents feel as you do towards their offspring. Well, I'm sorry- they don't. You assume that all homes are as safe as yours for children to live in. Well, I'm sorry- they aren't.

When I ran away, I slept in some places you wouldn't believe, in temperatures I was lucky to survive through. And I was not even from one of the worst homes out there. Yet it was enough to keep me on the run. At the time, I remember thinking 'I wish there was somewhere I could go to for shelter and help that wouldn't just hand me over to the cops'; but I knew there wasn't. And it didn't make sense- then just it doesn't now.

If there had been some sort of safe haven, perhaps access to counselling and mediation- then my life would have gone very differently. Perhaps I could even have gone home, with support.

Yet there wasn't. So although I was lucky in that I found good people I found some shelter with, it could have been so much better.

I was picked up by the police twice, as a runaway. They never- NEVER asked me one question about what was going on at home. Not a one. There was no social worker, no sympathetic teacher. I had other friends, at that time, going through similar and worse. Neither did they, to my certain knowledge, ever get asked any of these questions- even though I know that at least two were in horrific home situations and had attempted suicide.

My fear, aside from being sent home, was to end up in 'care'. Because I knew how bad that could be. So all it would have taken was some sick f*ck to have threatened to shop me 'unless', and I would have pretty much have to have do whatever they wanted.

Please don't make assumptions. I know how bratty teens can be- I really do- but please don't assume that a squat (for example) is necessarily some dreadful, dangerous place while the family home is the safest and best.


MaryZed Tue 16-Oct-12 21:20:49

I agree with that WorldOfMeh - ds ran away because he was very, very unhappy. The trouble was that no matter how we tried we couldn't change that.

Intervention, a safe place, some sort of mentor and a mediator might have saved us all; instead we have had five years of his unhappiness and he is only coming out of it now.

I suspect that for every child who runs away from caring parents, there are many, many more whose parents really don't give a shit (apart from the embarrassment of them being brought home and the fear of a court case if they don't go to school).

But earlier intervention would help all these kids, whatever the reason for their running away. And they should be listened to (I would refute many of ds's assertions about me, but that doesn't mean that he didn't believe them at the time).

And the availability of a safe space might have given us time apart to negotiate a truce. Instead on living in a state of continuous crisis.

WorldOfMeh Tue 16-Oct-12 21:34:14

Hi MaryZed - I am so sorry you have gone through this with your son- and I really hope that he beats the sadness and comes to see you as an ally eventually, as you clearly are one of those who do care.

I suspect that depression played a big part in how things went in my case, too, along with the family situation. However people are often reluctant to recognise mental illness in the young- it seems to get lumped in with 'difficult teenage behaviour', just when well-judged interventions could make a world of difference.

I don't know how things are now, but back in my day, there was no legal way of offering neutral ground or a 'safe haven'. Without that, it was impossible to move to the mentoring/mediation which could have made all the difference, as you say.

Stupid, when you consider the alternatives.

Wishing you the best.

imperialstateknickers Tue 16-Oct-12 21:46:10

Haven't read whole thread, as originally I'd come here to post and help earn another £2 for Railway Children. However, browsing through I've been reminded of when DB ran away minutes before he was due to be taken back to his boarding prep school. He was gone for two hours. I always remember how white he looked when he came back, dressed in his uniform, cap and raincoat. He said that some of the other boys were horrid to him. My mum and dad took him to school but gave notice and moved him to another school the moment the notice period was up, a term later.

He was only seven.

Many years later, in between spells in rehab, he told me he'd been sexually abused by older boys at that school, and that he'd never been able to forgive our parents, particularly our dad, for forcing him to go back.

He died last year from alcoholism. He was 38.

MaryZed Tue 16-Oct-12 22:19:51

Thanks smile

And I agree about mh issues - I still wonder if had ds been treated for depression when he was diagnosed at the age of 9, would he have got so unhappy that he started self-medicating, but we'll never know.

Hopefully things are looking up for us now.

But I see other kids in ds2's class (they are 14) and two in particular I worry a lot about. I can see them having the over-the-top rebellion that comes from not caring enough about themselves, which is often what starts the self-destructive behaviour.

That is such a sad story imperial. It is so true that we should listen to children more - I suppose your parents thought they were doing their best, and at least they did move him, but I suspect they haven't forgiven themselves. It is such a fucking waste of a life sad.

CalmingMiranda I went to hide in the beach huts on the sea front a couple of miles away from home, they were night fishing and found me there. Took me back to their house in the next town, one of those chaotic houses with people in and out all the time, I was there two and a half days and was never really sure who actually lived there. The men had all done time in prison; the women had their suspicions that one of them might not have had entirely chivalrous intentions towards me. Nothing happened.

They took me home after my parents appeared on the front page of the local paper. I felt like a fraud when they took me home, and two of them sat in my parents' living room as my parents joked about what a 'deprived home' I came from. 'Joked' is not the right way to put it ... they were distraught, and very glad to have me back. And I feel like a fraud in the light of stories like WorldofMeh's, I really do. But there was a world of hideous going on inside my head, one way and another. If there is one thing I could wish for my DD right now it would be the kind of uncomplicated adolescence DH seems to have had.

PrincessSymbian Wed 17-Oct-12 10:31:22

Oh and the running away seems to run in the family, my grandad ran away from boarding school when he was a teenager, to go and live in a cave! I don't think he lasted very long but he was brave to try. I've always wandered what difference he would have made to my adolescence, if we had not been slowly loosing him to parkinsons.

imperialstateknickers Wed 17-Oct-12 10:39:39

Thanks MaryZed. I don't think we'll ever know for certain what triggered the depression that started DB's drug and alcohol abuse spiral but I can't imagine that the abuse wasn't part of it. Our father never knew about the abuse, he died before DB talked about it, but our mother knows and still beats herself up over it.
Another £2 please Aviva!

noidles Thu 18-Oct-12 12:08:16

just bumping again so more people can contribute smile

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 22-Oct-12 14:50:36

Thank you noidles!

Yes, do please add some more posts to this thread. Remember: each post about your experience of/thoughts about will rack up another £2 for Railway Children, thanks to Aviva.

ShatnersBassoon Mon 22-Oct-12 15:28:06

I had no idea that children running away was so common. I didn't/don't know anyone that tried to get away from home, or at least nobody who would admit to it. My sister once said she was running away in a fit of temper, but she made it to the end of our road before changing her mind.

CinnabarRed Mon 22-Oct-12 15:30:09

I wish I could do more than simply post.

PedallingSquares Mon 22-Oct-12 16:21:08

When my brother was 17 he was considered to be 'difficult' and 'moody'. One day he ran away. He was found wandering through the country lanes near my uncle's farm, 300 miles from our home. We never found out how he got there (did he have/steal/beg for money for the train or hitchhike or goodness knows what). He said he couldn't remember and who knows if that is true or not. I don't think it matters really.

Looking back he was utterly, utterly desperate for someone, anyone to notice that he was suffering from crippling depression from headaches that made him want to die they felt so bad. Everyone said that he was just a moody teenager trying to get out of school.

I am so glad that my brother didn't try to kill himself. Eventually he got the help he needed but it took a long, long time.

I still feel so sad for that 17 year old boy who no-one would listen to.

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


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

AuntLucyInPeru Wed 24-Oct-12 22:00:36


AuntLucyInPeru Wed 24-Oct-12 22:10:23

And another for luck. Used to be a foster sister. Have heard some of the run-away stories first hand from 8yr olds. Every £2 very welcome sad

AuntLucyInPeru Wed 24-Oct-12 22:15:52

Still feeling lucky. This post for you, Dana

Vijac Wed 24-Oct-12 22:32:24

It is great that this cause is being supported. Runaway children are so vulnerable and their lives can still be saved from going down the wrong route.

lostinpants Thu 25-Oct-12 07:01:42

This is a thought provoking thread, I had never heard of the Railway children.

I remember a good friend & also a family member running away from home. Social services brought them back several times only to run away again. One ended up living independently (post 16) the other fostered. I never really understood why as on the surface, both were from loving, stable, middle class homes and the parents were extremely worried and went through hell. Both are now wonderful mothers in stable loving homes.
But history could always repeat itself.

gingercat12 Thu 25-Oct-12 12:37:39

Thankfully my DS is too young.

JackieLanaTurn Thu 25-Oct-12 16:39:14

I was 6 when I first ran away from home. I hated my home life and had very little hope that it would get better. I walked about a mile and a half to the top of the council estate I lived on and sat huddled near a house by the dual carriageway for about an hour. Nothing happened. No one came, so I walked back home. I got a bollocking for being late for tea! That was it.

I tried a couple of times later, but I wasn't brave enough to ever do it for real and I didn't like being cold and alone. My home conditions weren't great, but it was better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish. I was showing signs of depression by the time I got to secondary school. Wanted to kill myself, cried during lessons. None of it got picked up on. I can't imagine schools would get away with that these days. Or at least, I hope not.

I was bullied at school. Felt isolated socially. Was bright but penalised for that because I wasn't one of the little rich kids in school. Basically I was screwed no matter what. I also had an enormous chip on my shoulder. Or maybe even a bag of chips! I hated rich people because we were so poor. I hated them because the kids who picked on me were all from that socio-economic background. I hated them because I couldn't imagine ever having what they had.

I now have a good life. I have realised that my self-esteem issues arose because my mum didn't really love me. I have realised she didn't love me because she couldn't. She was depressed herself for most of my younger life and on valium and my dad, though he probably saved my life by showing me that you could be broke and happy, was a bit of a mysoginist (something I couldn't comprehend as a child). He made my mum very unhappy in many ways.

I dread to think what could have happened to me and I think my mum would have been sad if I had run away for real, maybe, but I'll never really know...

OovoofWelcome Thu 25-Oct-12 20:23:41

An important topic. Brilliant that Aviva are sponsoring this discussion.

OovoofWelcome Thu 25-Oct-12 20:23:59

Really really great.

OovoofWelcome Thu 25-Oct-12 20:24:28

Excellent work from mumsnet too.

SuiGeneris Thu 25-Oct-12 22:03:00

Excellent that Aviva is supporting this discussion. Was not aware of the railway children either....

SuiGeneris Thu 25-Oct-12 22:04:36

Some of the stories on this thread are too heart-breaking to read. One question: what should an adult do if they come into contact with a runaway child?

Teladi Thu 25-Oct-12 22:12:33

My DD is only 1... I hope this is something that I never have to deal with. I think I probably would assume that it is something I won't have to deal with! I realise I am quite naive there. Thanks to Railway Children for the work that they do.

QuickLookBusy Fri 26-Oct-12 09:22:47

Agree some of these stories are heartbreaking.

It would be fantastic if the charity Railway Children was well known to every child, just like childlike is, so that if they were going to runaway they knew they could phone someone who would help them.

AitchTwoOhOneTwo Fri 26-Oct-12 10:52:20


sassythebloodFIRSTy Fri 26-Oct-12 13:52:17

If you have the kind of young teens for whom this is an alien experience - or the type who might run off for attention/to make a point when there is no real need - I recommend you and they read a novel called 'Stone Cold' by Robert Swindells. It's a very realistic and hard-hitting account of why kids might choose to leave home, what might happen to them and the dangers they face when they do so. One bit in particular always strikes me as very effective whenever I read it with students (English teacher) - an account of a night on the streets with no major occurences, just coldness, being moved on, getting peed on by drunks etc.

RebeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 26-Oct-12 17:18:55

Hi all,

Just a quick up date and a reminder that every single time you get involved in this campaign Aviva are donating £2 to Railway Children.

So far you've you've raised a whopping £15,056 thanks

And here's how:

There were 232 relevant contributions to discussions

1,030 people completed the survey

1,418 users spent more than 90 seconds on the discussion threads

4,535 users spent more than 90 seconds looking at Railway content

There were 126 tweets/facebook shares

187 people signed up to the panel

Thank you all so so much this money will go a long way to help some very vulnerable young people and here's how

BUT YOU CAN STILL HELP Aviva still have buckets more money to donate, so here are more ways to get involved Tell you friends, share on FB and drag folks over to this thread.


What a fantastic cause, well done to Aviva for supporting it.

QuickLookBusy Fri 26-Oct-12 20:02:14

That's fantastic news Rebecca.

Well done Mumsnet!

Mustdo2 Fri 26-Oct-12 20:06:37

Wouldn't it be great if charities and schools/social services could join forces and provide shelter for vulnerable young runaways? Outside of the school day, schools are empty buildings that could be used to accommodate children overnight and during weekends/holidays. Most children know where their local schools are so could find their way to a school of their choice to gain support and shelter.

caramelwaffle Sat 27-Oct-12 00:13:51


jesuswhatnext Sat 27-Oct-12 10:53:49


missusjen Sun 28-Oct-12 13:44:41

My little brother ran away when he was 6, and was picked up within a few hours. I've never found anything so sad and disturbing as his bag full of underpants and things he considered treasure. I think some people are very troubled, whatever help is offered them, and whatever their circumstances are. He wasn't ever to be helped unfortunately, he was never happy and died earlier this year from alcoholism at 32. He spent almost all of his adult life homeless, living in hostels and shelters from 17 onwards.

gazzalw Wed 31-Oct-12 11:11:59

That's so very sad missusjen sad

RowanMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 13-Nov-12 15:09:49


We've had the following response from Railway Children in answer to the question about what you should do if you find a runaway child:


Thanks, SuiGeneris, this is a really good question.

As you might expect, there's no one simple answer, as there are so many different situations/circumstances which could have caused a child to run away. Every case is different, and must be treated individually, dependent up on the circumstances. Should you find yourself in this situation, we would urge you consider the following in order to help you decide what to do next:

a) Is the young person in danger? If so, the adult should call either the police or social care – your local social care duty team phone number can be found on your council website. However, bear in mind that this could cause a negative reaction from the young person, dependent on their circumstances. Many young people who have run away from home often seek to avoid being part of the 'system', and so if they're not in immediate danger, there may be other ways to offer them help and support.

b) If the young person would be open to receiving support and advice from a neutral source, encourage them to contact ChildLine (0800 1111) or Missing People (020 8392 4590).

Be careful to consider how well you know the young person – if you know them personally, they're perhaps more likely to take advice from you. Be careful to stop and think – are you making assumptions that the young person is running away from home, or do you know this to be the case? Be careful not to be seen to be judging them, as the young person may feel hurt by this.

The most important thing to do, is to help show them that there is support out there, and that they are not alone. Simply just being there and being able to talk – or even just listen – is often invaluable.

If you are worried about a teenager who could have run away, or could be thinking about it, have a look at our advice page for other practical tips from Mumsnetters.


caramelwaffle Tue 13-Nov-12 20:21:51


SuiGeneris Wed 14-Nov-12 10:46:31

RowanMN thank you for following up on my question. DCs are very young and therefore so are the other children DH and I know, but will bear that in mind.

There are some moving stories on this thread. Its so hard to read some of them. To all of you who are doing such positive work with these young people thanks.

I there any way i can get involved in this project eg volunteering in some way .

Lobster Thu 20-Dec-12 09:13:17

What are the main reasons for leaving? I have twin 21 year olds, jobless & confused with life & on cannabis. We give love & support which is thrown in our face. But would never throw them out. They are in despair, but doubt they would leave home. It must take much sadness to go.

LittleTownofBethleHelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 20-Dec-12 16:05:20


I there any way i can get involved in this project eg volunteering in some way .

Hi connorandmaddiemom. How lovely of you. You could try looking at this page on the Railway Children's site.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now