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Runaways team awarded new contract in Barnet

St Christopher’s Fellowship has partnered with the London Borough of Barnet to provide support for children and young people who run away from their home, and help for their families to address the reasons behind it.

When a young person runs away from home, school or care, it is a sign that something is seriously wrong. They are at great risk on the streets and can be caught up in criminal exploitation, leading them down a dangerous path. It is important to find out the reasons behind absconding, address what has happened, and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again. In these instances, St Christopher’s Runaways service is there to provide this help.

One way to do this is through a Return Home Interview (RHI), which is when a professional speaks with a young person to find out what happened whilst they were missing and the reasons behind their decision to run away. Ideally this should be someone who stands independently from the police or social services to encourage a young person to trust them and feel safe to open up with what happened. After spending time with the young person, the professional can recommend a support plan to be put in place for them and their family or carers, combining the best expertise from different agencies and departments so that there is a multi-disciplinary team looking after them. This work aims to prevent young people from running away multiple times, therefore keeping them safe now and in the future.

St Christopher’s Runaways team has worked in a number of London boroughs since 2009. In Barnet they have provided RHIs on a temporary basis since May 2017 for children and young people who are from Barnet, but live in care placements outside of the borough. For the new contract, they will be providing the service to children and young people living both within and out of Barnet.

The positive impact of the team has been clear from the beginning. Their average engagement rate for young people completing RHIs has been around 62%, peaking at 72%, and they have supported 45 young people over this time.

As part of St Christopher’s strategy, we are aiming to double the number of children and young people we work with by 2023. One of the ways we will do this is by providing more excellent homes, fostering and support, so this new contract helps us on the way towards this goal.

St Christopher’s Chief Executive Jonathan Whalley said: “This is an exciting example of how we are delivering on the aims and ambitions of our corporate strategy. The work our Runaways team do is vital for safeguarding young people and helping them to access the support that is right for them. We are delighted to continue our working relationship with Barnet to help create brighter futures for children and young people across the borough.”

Find out more about the Runaways service using the button below.

Meet the Runaways team