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Running Away

When things get really bad at home, it can feel like the only way out is to run away. Around 100,000 young people under 16 run away from home each year in the UK. About 1 in every 6 of those young people end up homeless and sleeping rough on the streets. One in eight young people had been physically hurt and one in nine were sexually assaulted when they were away from home.

Running away might not be the answer to your problem at home so, unless you are in danger, running away should be a last resort.

  • Before you make any decision, it is very important to talk to someone about your options. You can chat for free and in complete confidence to Meic, Childline, Shelter Cymru, NSPCC Child Protection Line or the National Missing Persons Runaway Helpline. They will be able to give you help and advice, whatever you want to do - and you don't have to tell them your name
  • Remember, if you are going to leave home, make sure you have somewhere to go first. It is very difficult to find accommodation so don't think you can just find a safe place to stay easily
  • Try a friend's or family member's house in the first instance if you feel you can't stay at home any longer
  • You cannot get a tenancy until you are 18 years old, but if you are aged 16 or 17 years old, the local authority has a legal duty to find you accommodation
  • If you are having problems with your family, but find it hard to talk to them, try a mediation service before resorting to running away. Llamau Mediation Service works with young people in Wales and their families to help them resolve their problems and stay or return home
  • If you are thinking of running away because of domestic violence or abuse, make sure you get help and support. No-one expects you to live with violence but don't put yourself in anymore danger. Call Childline or the NSPCC Child Protection Line for advice and help or visit the Domestic Violence section (link to 2a7 Domestic Violence) for more information. There are safe places you can go, such as a refuge, so get help and don't be alone
  • If you feel like you just can't stay at home, always make sure you have somewhere safe to go. See the How to Avoid Homelessness section (link to 5b2 How To Avoid Homelessness) before you do anything and always talk to someone about how you feel first
  • Being homeless is frightening, cold and lonely so think through your decision to run away and get the right advice and help first

Already run away?

If you have already run away and need help and support, there are people you can talk to. Get in touch with any of the organisations on this page as soon as you can and get advice on what to do next. Most services are free and you don't have to give your name if you don't want to.

If you have run away, there are ways of letting people know that you are safe and the reasons why you left without actually seeing them using the Missing Persons Message Home Helpline.

Remember, if you are 16 or 17 years old, the local authority has a legal obligation to find you somewhere to stay so don't stay on the streets, get in touch with them and get a roof over your head.

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