Downing Street, Samantha Cameron and the Railway Children

The big black door of 10 Downing Street

I know it’s an odd question but what do 10 Downing Street, Samantha Cameron and the Railway Children all have in common?


The answer is me! Yes, I’m serious!  And so is the reason:  runaway children.

So, why is the answer ‘me’?

Well, I was privileged to be invited by Samantha Cameron to an event hosted at 10 Downing Street this week in support of the amazing charity Railway Children.  Mumsnet, Aviva and now Samantha Cameron are working together to raise awareness about the issues of runaway children.

You may have read this post on the work Railway Children do with young people who run away.  If you haven’t yet, you should. Please do.  Awareness really is key in preventing your child, or a child you know, from running away.

But in case you haven’t yet, let me remind you of the staggering statistics.

One child runs away every five minutes

Your eyes aren’t deceiving you, that really does read that one child every five minutes runs away from home in the UK.

That’s an estimated 100,000 children every year in the UK running away or feeling forced to leave their homes because of poverty, violence, abuse and neglect.

We may think this is something that ‘just’ happens abroad and in developing countries.  It’s not.  It is a very real issue here in the UK.  And with statistics like this the reality is, it really could happen to you or to someone you know.

The event at Downing Street was asking for help. My help, your help, our help.

Not for our money, as Aviva are very kindly donating money to Railway Children and their partners, but for help with supporting the cause by raising awareness, simply by talking.

We’re all pretty good at talking right?  Even if you do it virtually – by sharing this post or linking to Railway Children or Mumsnet.  If you tell three people about this post and they tell three people and they then tell three people, we’re already starting to talk about runaway children, a subject normally taboo in the UK and sharing information, and well, you get the message.

Hopefully as a result, parents will take the plunge and sit down and talk to their children about what is happening, about what could happen.

Railway Children work with a number of partner charities who also attended Downing Street. They do a lot of outreach work directly on the streets, searching for those at risk, offering a safe place and helping them.  Collectively they are doing some  inspirational work with young people.  But on its own, it’s not enough.  We need to do something about it too.

Terina Keene, Chief Executive of the Railway Children put it perfectly in her speech at Downing Street:

We need to keep “working together to keep all our children safe because ultimately that’s we want to do – keep our children safe.”

If you’re a parent you will understand that sentiment.

The streets hold risks many of you will not appreciate.  Children are vulnerable at the best of times, but when wandering aimlessly, or hanging around street corners, their vulnerability is unthinkable.  All those things you hear about really do happen.  Young vulnerable people are sexually exploited, susceptible to violence and open to substance abuse.

Don’t think this just happens to certain people.  This can happen to anyone.  You owe it to yourself and your family to learn about the causes, recognise the signs and make sure your friends do too.

What can you do?

As before, Aviva are kindly donating for every comment left here, on this blog; another donation for every comment on facebook and twitter (@Railwaychildren) and a further donation for every comment on the Mumsnet forum thread.

So what are you waiting for, leave a comment here, there and everywhere…. make sure you share this information.  You could save a child.

By leaving a comment the donations from Aviva will all add up: Where does the money go in the UK?

£1 could buy a warm drink for a vulnerable child on the streets

£5 could buy a warm meal for a young person staying in a refuge

£10 could fund resources for 30 young people at a runaway prevention workshop

£25 could help keep one of our workers on the streets, seeking out children who may be at risk

£50 could pay for 1:1 support sessions to help a child work through their issues


If you want to get more involved in raising money for Railway Children and their partner charities, you can. A comment and a share on my post about the time I spent with New Horizon will cost you nothing but it will cost Aviva £2 for the share and £2 for the comment, and will help New Horizon to continue with their incredible outreach support for young and vulnerable people on the streets of London.

Visit the Railway Children website for more details on fundraising, and if you’re keen to do something, drop me a line – maybe we could do it together.








22 thoughts on “Downing Street, Samantha Cameron and the Railway Children

  1. Good for you for getting stuck into Railway Children. Great charity. Just wanted to leave my mark so Aviva can make a donation to this important cause. But how can a child get a warm drink in a refuge if there aren’t any in London ? I see so many people like yourself with a mission to help but without the funds in place to create new refuges, these kids are going to fall through the net surely?
    jo recently posted..Cereal Boxes No.4 – BookshelvesMy Profile

    • Hello Jo, thank you for leaving a comment. It is a great charity isn’t it and the charities they work with are too. They do a lot of outreach work where they go on to the streets and talk to young people at risk of running away or who have already run away. They have youth centres they can take them to and give them hot drinks, advice and support. You’re right in thinking Refuge places are few, but New Youth Horizons in London works closely with Railway Children and they do some fantastic outreach work on the streets of London. The fact public spending is being cut is a major issue and that’s why it’s important to raise awareness and try and prevent more children from running away.

    • Hi John, thank you for stopping by and for also supporting the cause. Sorry I didn’t get to meet you on the night…maybe next time! Ha!

  2. Great post, the lack of safe refuge places for runaway children was an eye opener for me. 100,000 children are running away each year in the UK and there is very limited beds available. Thank god the charities are looking out for these children, because central government and local authorities are obviously just ignoring the issue.
    Annis le Felling recently posted..Dickensian street urchins in the 21st century.My Profile

    • Hi Annis, yes the lack of refuge places shocked me too. But the charities are doing a great job with what they have available to them.

  3. Thanks for telling me about New Youth Horizons – they look good. I used to volunteer for Crisis at Christmas and saw the terrible fallout from those, both old and young, suffering years of neglect and dejection. Anyone who’s ever worked with homeless people understands ‘there but for the Grace etc …’
    Have just published a children’s book on this subject (The Barmies) about a boy who’s life is made such a misery by his parents, that he’s driven to escape their clutches. He’s caught by the net of Social Services and good friends. Could this be a way forward to give children an understanding of what’s available to them?

  4. Ta, Donna. You can see it on my website [[]] under ‘Books’ and/or on (‘Look Inside’ coming in 2 weeks). This isn’t a sales pitch – just thought it might be a lateral way of getting kids to talk. Do you know First Story, [[]] a great charity which sends authors to schools in challenging areas to inspire literacy and creativity. Worth taking a look ..
    jo recently posted..Cereal Boxes – No.5 Bad Hair DayMy Profile

    • Thanks Jo, it looks great! And definitely a lateral way of getting kids to talk. And thanks for telling me about, I wasn’t aware of them.

  5. As a parent I never want to think of my children running away. It’s bad enough not being with them everyday but to not see them and know they’re safe would break my heart totally.
    To all those in this situation my heart goes out to you.

  6. What a great evening it was at Downing Street and what a great job you’re doing raising awareness of the Railway Children with your post.
    The statistics are stark and scary and it’s wonderful that we’re all talking about them and sharing them with other people through our blogs, tweets and comments.
    mumtoteens recently posted..Talk to Your Teenagers about HomelessnessMy Profile

    • Thanks mumstoteens. My little ones are both under 6 but it’s a scary thought. I remember my teenage years being a difficult time – it’s not until you’re a parent that you can see things from a different perspective! It was a great night and I’m sorry I didn’t get to say hi to you. I’m going to pop straight over to your blog now. I think it’s great how people how coming together to raise awareness on what is such an important cause with some very real consequences.

    • Thanks, Penny. The fact we talk about it so little and have no true awareness of the real issues and risks is so concerning. Thanks for reading it and I’m pleased you found it thought provoking. Communicating about the issues is so important in the current climate where there are so many cuts being made to vital services.

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