Samantha Cameron hosts reception for charity Railway Children

Article date: 20 March 2013

  • Raising awareness of the fact that one child runs away from home every five minutes in the UK

Samantha Cameron hosted 120 guests at a 10 Downing Street reception this evening to raise awareness of the charity Railway Children, who provide help and support to children under 16 who have run away from home or are at risk of doing so. The charity estimates that one child runs away from home every five minutes in the UK.1

Mrs Cameron met staff and supporters of the charity who, with the support of partners Aviva, the UK’s largest insurer, are working with online community Mumsnet to urge parents to talk to their children about the issue of running away from home.

Despite the pervasiveness of the problem – with 100,000 children estimated to run away from home each year in the UK – parents surveyed by Mumsnet2 said that they had no idea of the scale of the problem in the UK, and felt that more should be done to raise awareness of the issue, a sentiment echoed by Mumsnet CEO and co-founder Justine Roberts: “I was shocked to learn that an estimated one child runs away from home every five minutes in the UK. I simply didn't realise the how prevalent the problem was and nor did many Mumsnetters.

So, we are delighted be working closely with Railway Children to raise awareness of this important issue, and to provide practical help and advice for any parent who may need it. This evening has brought together those who have faced the challenges of this issue in their daily lives, as well as several inspirational individuals who have used their own experiences to help others.”

Guests included Justine Roberts and Carrie Longton, co-founders of Mumsnet, Mumsnetters and Mumsnet bloggers, Railway Children ambassador and Psychiatrist Dr Sandra Scott as well as Aviva Group CEO Mark Wilson. Since 2009, Aviva has championed the needs of street children around the world through its flagship Street to School programme.

Terina Keene, Chief Executive, Railway Children said: “We are very grateful to Mrs Cameron for kindly hosting us here this evening. We estimate that 100,000 children run away from home each year, a deeply concerning statistic. They run away or are forced to leave homes where they suffer poverty, violence, abuse and neglect. This is not something that ‘just’ happens abroad and in developing countries, it is a very real issue here in the UK.

“Many parents simply don’t even consider that this could happen to them – until it is too late. We’d like to encourage all parents to talk to each other, and their children about the issue of running away from home to raise awareness of this hidden issue, and prevent it ever happening to them. For more information on the issue of running away from home and to join the conversation on Mumsnet, go to

Together, Railway Children and their long-term partners Aviva are working with Mumsnet to provide a dedicated space online to help parents who are grappling with this issue talk to their children before it’s too late. Parents can visit to get expert guidance on how to broach this and other difficult issues with their children and to share ideas, experience and advice with others. For every interaction on the Mumsnet site focusing on this theme, Aviva donates £2 to Railway Children to support their continued work in the UK, helping vulnerable young people alone and at risk on Britain’s streets.

Mark Wilson, Aviva Group CEO said: “Society has a duty to protect those who need protection and help those who are unable to help themselves, and children who run away from home could be considered at the top of this category.

As an insurance group we also perform a role in society in helping people when they need it and we also have a duty to society to promote excellent initiatives like the Street to School programme.  Through this programme we have helped over 600,000 children around the world by working with partners like Railway Children and Mumsnet.  We are thankful to Mrs Cameron for helping us draw attention to this important issue today.”

- Ends -

1‘Still Running III' – The Children’s Society 2011
2Mumsnet Survey – Oct 2012

For more information contact:
Heleana Greeves at Aviva on 0207 662 0405
Joey Ng at Hill+Knowlton Strategies on 0207 973 5941

Notes to editors:
Still Running III – The Children’s Society 2011.  This is the most, recent, accurate set of data of its kind, the exact scale of the problem is currently unknown but we have no reason to doubt the prevalence of the issue.

1,024 UK Mumsnet users completed an line survey on between 25 Sept – 8 October 2012. The survey explored parents’ discussions with their children and views on the issue of running away from home. All parents had at least one child aged 6-19 years. For more information see

Running away from home is defined as ‘any period of absence from home or care when someone didn’t know where you were.’

About Railway Children
Railway Children is a leading children’s charity fighting for 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. Every day we fight to change their story.

Railway Children race to reach children as soon as they arrive on the streets and intervene before an abuser can. Our pioneering 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 provides insurance, savings and investment products to 34 million customers worldwide.
We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers and one of Europe’s leading providers of life and general insurance. We combine strong life insurance, general insurance and asset management businesses under one powerful brand. We are committed to serving our customers well in order to build a stronger, sustainable business, which makes a positive contribution to society, and for which our people are proud to work.

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top ten most valuable brands and Aviva Plc is in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.  In 2012 we invested £5.7m into our UK communities. One in three of our employees were involved in community investment activities which included giving nearly 30,000 hours.
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, especially education. Find out more at

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

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About Mumsnet
Mumsnet is the UK's largest network for parents, with over 50 million page views and over 8 million visits per month.  It has 200 local sites, as well as a network of over 2,200 bloggers. 

It regularly campaigns on issues such as support for families of children with SEN, improvements on miscarriage care and freedom of speech on the internet. For more information visit

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