Rosie Cooper MP has pledged her support for the 100,000 children and young people who go missing every year by signing a 7ft replica running shoe in Parliament. The shoe is part of a campaign by The Children’s Society, with backing from the English Coalition of charities working with runaway children, calling for a national policy for runaway support for under 16’s. The running shoe will be presented to Downing Street later in the coming weeks.
Rosie said: “Too many of our youngest and most vulnerable children go missing every year and this important campaign sends a signal both to them that they are not alone and to the government and its partners that we could and should be doing more to help these young children’.
The recent Pledge Day comes hot on the heels of two days of Parliamentary Hearings which brought together representatives from the police, local authorities and the voluntary sector, as well as young people.
Led by Helen Southworth MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children, the Hearings saw a panel of MP’s take evidence from a range of specialists to identify the problems and dangers facing children in the UK who run away or go missing. Following the Hearings, the panel will be making recommendations to the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families.
The Coalition will use the opportunity to present its view that the country now needs a national system for safeguarding young runaways. The Children's Society is proposing a national safety net for runaway children comprising three elements:
The national safety net concept is the result of a nine-month (Nov 06 - July 07) national consultation led by The Children’s Society with support from the Department for Education and Skills, now Department for Children, Schools and Families. Local agencies including the Police, voluntary sector and local children’s services contributed via regional workshops and a national survey, what they believe should be in place to support runaways under 16.
Since 2006 a coalition of charities working with young runaways, including, The Children’s Society, Missing People, The Railway Children, NSPCC and local charities including Rerun in Dorset and Talk Don’t Walk in Cheshire have united to campaign for a national system of support for young runaways.
Research carried out by The Children’s Society**, revealed that most of the 100,000 children who run away from home or care every year, do so because of problems at home, with girls age 14 -15 the group most likely to run. Runaways employ risky strategies to survive with one in six sleeping rough and one in twelve hurt or harmed. Whilst most don't run far from home, many end up sofa surfing or sleeping in stranger’s houses.