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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!

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.)

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