The Runaways Service is off to a flying start since opening a new provision in the London Borough of Lewisham to support young people who run away from home, education and care.
Every year around 100,000 under 16s run away from home or care in the UK. Children who run away are more likely to be exposed to a wide range of dangers, from gang violence, offending and substance abuse to grooming, sexual exploitation and trafficking. St Christopher's Runaways Service aims to reduce the number of first time and repeat incidents of young people running away.
Since the service launched towards the end of 2016, staff have meeting representatives from Lewisham Children's Services to raise awareness of what they do. Thanks to this hard work and dedication they are now part of a multi-agency missing, exploitation and trafficking operational group, which meets every week to look at children's cases.
Although the team are based in the Lewisham Children's Services building they spend most of their time visiting children in their home or care placement to conduct Independent Return Home Interviews, follow-up one-to-one sessions or family mediation.
The team currently have a caseload of six children and young people whilst the new referral system is embedded by Lewisham's social workers, but this figure is likely to rise quickly.
A first monitoring report will be submitted by the end of February to reflect on the team's progress.