YOUNG runaways and their families have had a funding boost of £645,000.
A Dundee-based service run by Shelter-Scotland and Relationships Scotland has helped over 180 young people and their families since its launch in 2011, thanks to the Big Lottery Fund.
The Big Lottery has now awarded the service a further £645,709 through its Investing in Communities Fund.
It is estimated that there are almost 12,000 incidents of young people running away from home each year in Scotland. Shelter Scotland says that whether they’re sleeping rough or sofa surfing with friends, runaways are extremely vulnerable.
Research by the charity shows that 84% of today’s young homeless people in Scotland under 25 years of age ran away at least once before they were 16 years old, compared with an 11% average for young people generally.
20% of the runaways who are now homeless first ran away before they were 11 years old.
Commenting on the funding award, Graeme Brown, Director of Shelter Scotland, said: “Today’s runaways are tomorrow’s young homeless people and if we are serious about preventing homelessness then addressing why children and young people run away is essential.
“Safe and Sound has had an invaluable impact on the lives of many young people and their families since its launch, and will continue to do so thanks to this funding from the Big Lottery Fund.
“We look forward to continuing our work with Relationships Scotland to offer help to those who need it most and, where possible, prevent homelessness by facilitating the safe return of young runaways to their family home.
“Where this is not possible we will help them to find and keep a home of their own, while continuing to support them through the family mediation service to sustain and improve family relationships.”
Stuart Valentine, Chief Executive of Relationships Scotland, said: “For three years now Safe & Sound has offered family mediation to young people and their families, giving them the opportunity to work through their conflict and strengthen their relationship.
“We’re delighted to work with Shelter Scotland in offering this lifeline to help protect some of the most vulnerable young people in our society.”
16-year-old Blake was helped by Safe & Sound. He said: “My project worker has helped with my anxiety a lot. I don’t always need to run away now, I’ve got her to speak to. She’s showed us that if there’s an argument, to walk away, to not start fighting, just walk away and ignore it, go to my room or whatever. And it’s actually worked.”
Claire, a mother of one of the young people helped by the service, said: “Our weekly mediation meeting gives us an opportunity to have real time together. It’s something as simple as that, but it’s made a huge difference to our relationship.
“Even after the mediation is finished we’ll still go out together once a week, and we’ll go out for dinner and we’ll have time on our own. Just me and her so we can continue this good practice.
“I’ve learnt that my daughter isn’t a daft wee girl, she’s a bit more switched on than I thought and I think she knows a lot of what I was worried about.”