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.