How you've helped: A message from Railway Children

railway childrenIn September 2012, we set out to make parents more aware of the huge problem of runaway children in the UK.

As you now probably know, it's a shocking fact that every five minutes, a child under the age of 16 runs away from home in the UK. That's 100,000 children every year. 70% of them are never reported missing and 18,000 will sleep rough or with someone they have just met.

Awareness of this issue is still very low in the UK and over the last year Railway Children has worked closely with Aviva and all of the people at Mumsnet Towers to increase understanding and provide lots of helpful information. We've also tried to bring you information on the charity's work in the UK too.

Thanks to Mumsnetters and our partners Aviva, we've been part of some fascinating conversations and together we've raised a massive £190,000 for our work with children in the UK in the process. We'd like to thank the 95,000 Mumsnetters who have read, watched, liked and shared our content over the site, blog and social media channels. Each of these engagements triggered a £2 donation from Aviva, who have generously agreed to round this donation up to £200,000!

Railway Children's partners work with children before, during and after they run away, with services designed as a direct response to research with young people who had been away from home for four weeks or more. Your support and Aviva's generosity will allow us to provide critical support to some of the UK's most vulnerable children.

What will your money pay for?

1. Preventative education workshops in schools and youth centres for 8,000 children

Across the UK, there is a lack of service provision for children who run away from home. A key element of Railway Children's work is delivering preventative education workshops to improve young people's understanding of the risks of running away. Young people are encouraged to think about safer options, and to identify people they could talk to who could help them sort out problems.

2. Two full time family workers to support 80 families

Family conflict remains the most common reason for young people running away. Family workers encourage parents and carers to identify and address the reasons that their children are running away, and to build trust and stronger relationships to prevent repeat incidents.

The work with parents and carers takes place on a one to one basis and in group sessions to help improve family relationships.

  • "I was desperate for help and nobody was listening, nobody wanted to know." Father
  • "Before [support] there was no talking, only shouting and screaming and punishments, there was nothing good." Mother
  • "It was really nice to have someone there who was on my side... was going to listen to me... help me sort things out with my Mum... things had got really bad between us." Young person
  • "We've had lots of conversations about her and her mum to try to get her to understand her mum's point of view and to help improve communication between them both." Key worker

3. Four part time detached street workers to engage with 800 children on the streets

Youth workers meet young people in the evening and at weekends, when many other services are closed. This can be in local parks and estates, or in city centres. By returning regularly to the same area, workers develop relationships with young people who are spending time on the streets and may not be attending school or using building-based services.

They raise awareness about the risks of running away, and refer young people on to other support as needed. Workers give out pens and cards with free helpline numbers so young people know how to reach the service if they need it in the future.

  • "He was more laid back (than other social workers). He spoke to you more as a person than as a client. He was more easygoing, sort of thing; you could chat to him about anything. He was good. He helped me a lot as well... He got me off the streets and into a hostel... He helped me into college as well." Young runaway

Thank you for all your support in enabling us to reach out to some of the most vulnerable children in the UK.

For more information and details about how you can continue to support Railway Children, please visit


Last updated: about 3 years ago