North London boroughs receives funding to support young runaways

Article date: 10 November 2011

Services to support young runaways and children at risk on the streets in Islington, Haringey and Camden are set to get a boost with funding from Aviva, as part of a collaboration between their charity partner Railway Children and Barnardo’s.

Alexandra Burke, who is today named as Railway Children’s first UK Ambassador, is visiting her old secondary school Elizabeth Garratt Anderson School, Donegal Street, Islington, to make the announcement. Aviva is giving £300,000 funding over the next three years to extend the existing Barnardo’s Miss U service in Camden. The funding will also enable similar new services to be set up in Islington and Haringey, growing the network of on-the-ground support for young runaways across North London. This is a collaborative multi-agency approach between corporate partner Aviva, charity partner Railway Children, children’s charity Barnardo’s and North London local authorities.

This funding is critical to address the lack of services for young runaways in London and is part of Aviva’s on-going partnership with Railway Children, the national charity that supports vulnerable children alone and at risk on Britain’s streets.

Every year in the UK an estimated 100,000 young people under the age of 16 run away from home1. One in six of these end up sleeping rough. Often they are escaping very difficult home circumstances and see the streets as their safest option. The extension of the existing service in Camden and the creation of new services in Islington and Haringey will provide a much needed boost to early intervention services and preventative activity in these areas. Barnardo’s has worked with missing children in Camden for 15 years, mediating on their behalf with other agencies and parents, providing a safe place to talk and educating young people about making safe choices.

Terina Keene, Railway Children chief executive, said: “We know that young people are looking to society and the Government to do more to help those facing difficult home circumstances to stop them running away. Having survived a very difficult home environment, many young runaways have lost their trust in adults and see the streets as their only alternative if they feel they cannot live at home any longer. Faced with limited choices and not knowing where to turn, many vulnerable young runaways end up living alone on the streets, where they are at risk of violence, sexual abuse and drug or alcohol dependency.

“It’s vital we reach these children before they come to further harm. By working with Aviva and Barnardo’s we can increase the network of support available to young people in North London who have run away from home or are thinking of running away.”

Alexandra Burke, Railway Children’s first ever UK Ambassador, is at her old school in Islington today to help run a "Runaway Prevention Awareness" class to a group of Year 7’s (11-12 year olds).

Alexandra said: “It’s shocking that here in the UK children are ending up alone and at risk on our streets. But what’s more alarming to me is that people aren’t talking about it more. This affects every one of us. It’s not just something that happens in other countries, it’s happening right now in our communities and on our streets. We need to start shouting about it. I hope that as an Ambassador to Railway Children I can help spread the word.

“When I was young, at this very school, I was lucky enough to be encouraged by those around me to follow my dreams. Not every child is lucky enough to have such great support and that’s why projects that reach out to kids on the ground are so important. If you’re facing tough times at home and feel you have nowhere else to turn and are thinking about running away, remember - support is out there to help you. Don’t suffer in silence.”

Aviva’s funding for the Barnardo’s Miss U service is part of its global Street to School programme, which aims to get children off the streets and into education by providing support to on-the-ground networks that reach these vulnerable children directly.

Anne Filatotchev, marketing director, Aviva UK, said: “Aviva works with Railway Children to raise awareness about the issue of young runaways. We also help support the vital work they do with vulnerable young people and this collaboration, based on the strength of the existing Barnardo’s Miss U service in Camden, is part of that. The new funding from Aviva will extend existing services and allow the creation of two new services, increasing the network of support available to young people at risk and thinking of running away in North London. These support services are a vital part of prevention and protection for young people.”

Libby Fry, assistant director of Children’s Services at Barnardo’s, said: “This is a great example of a collaborative approach being taken by multiple stakeholders, reflecting the Government’s desire to adopt multi-agency partnership working which brings together local authorities and the voluntary sector in business.

“Our Miss U service in Camden, operational for the past 15 years, has produced considerable evidence that the right kind of independent support can enable children to avoid going missing again and resolve the issues that made it feel necessary to run away.

“We are delighted that children and young people in the boroughs of Haringey and Islington will also be able to benefit from this intervention for the next three years”.


For further information please contact:
Kate Fairclough, Claire Scott or Sallie Bale at Hill & Knowlton on 0207 413 3000 or email

Notes to editors:

Still Running ll – The Children’s Society 2005.  This is the most, recent, accurate set of data of this kind, the exact scale of the problem is currently unknown but we have no reason to doubt the prevalence of the issue.

About Railway Children
Railway Children is a leading children’s charity campaigning for and supporting vulnerable children who live alone at risk on the streets, where they suffer abuse and exploitation. In the UK, society often denies their existence, and in other countries the problem is so prevalent that it has become ‘normal’. 

Children and young people run away or are forced to leave home where they suffer poverty, violence, abuse and neglect. They find themselves living on the streets because there is nowhere else to go and no one left to turn to. The problems they face on the streets are often even worse than those they endured at home.

Railway Children aims to reach children as soon as they arrive on the streets and intervene before an abuser can. Our pioneering project and research work in the UK, India and East Africa enables us to get to street children before the streets get to them. For more information on how you can get involved visit




About Aviva
Aviva is the world’s sixth largest* insurance group. We provide 44.5 million customers with insurance, savings and investment products with total worldwide sales in 2010 of £47.1 billion**.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers. Our combination of life, health and general insurance is unique in its scale and breadth in the UK market.  Customers can choose to buy our products through intermediaries, our corporate partners or from Aviva direct and we have become the partner of choice for many of the UK’s biggest organisations. 

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top 10 most valuable brands and Aviva plc are in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. In 2010 we invested £4.3 million into our communities in the UK, which included 1,500 Aviva volunteers giving 24,000 hours for good causes. In addition, our employees gave £600,000 through fundraising and donating. Read our corporate responsibility report at

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life. Find out more at

The Aviva media centre at includes company information and a news release archive.

For broadcast-standard video, please visit

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* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2010.
** at 31 December 2010. 

About Barnardo’s
Barnardo’s works with more than 190,000 children, young people and their families each year. Barnardo’s now runs more than 800 services across the UK.

We believe in the potential of every child and young person, no matter who they are, what they have done or what they have been through. We will support them, stand up for them and bring out the best in each and every child.  

Every year we help thousands of children turn their lives around. But we cannot do it without you. Visit to find out how you can get involved and show you believe in children.

The Barnardo’s Miss U service has worked with missing children in Camden for the past 15 years.  The service works closely with colleagues in the statutory services providing young people with a safe place to talk about the reasons why they run away.  It aims to educate young people about making safe choices sign posting them to safer options; mediating on their behalf with other agencies and parents.

1 ‘Still Running II' – The Children’s Society 2005

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