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Charity Call To Help Child Runaways

By Frazer Maude, Sky News

733 days ago   Article ID# 1547208
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Railway Children

LONDON, U K (Sky News) - The concept of "street children" is not something that only exists in the developing world.

That is what the organisers behind the International Day for Street Children, celebrated every year on April 12, hope to make people realise.

A survey jointly commissioned by Aviva and the Consortium for Street Children estimates that 100,000 young people run away from home or care every year, and end up on the streets.

Andy McCullough, who now works for the charity Railway Children, ran away when he was seven after his father died.

He was taken into care and spent a lot of time on the streets, so is well placed to explain the issues of young people in a similar situation.

He says one of the answers is for people to be more understanding of young people who may be homeless.

"These are young people who may have run away from abuse or family problems, and may well become susceptible to paedophiles or other predatory adults," he told Sky News.

"But we need to remember they are young people who need help, and who need families to give them support and direction."

But charities fear that that support can be harder to offer in an age where homelessness has been driven out of city centres because of CCTV and city centre management.

Rather than sleeping in shop doorways, young people tend to "sofa-surf", or worse, be taken under the wing of abusive adults.

And that can mean as well as becoming "invisible" to social services, it also makes it more difficult for them to come forward and seek the help they need.

The survey also highlights what the CSC says is "concerning" public misconceptions about young people sleeping rough.

It suggests 21% of Britons would feel suspicious of criminal activity at the sight of young people sleeping rough, and 68% only think of street children as existing in the developing world.

The CSC are asking for the government and society to sign a pledge to stand up for the rights of street children at www.streetchildrenday.org.

Mr McCullough agrees with the need to make politicians aware, but says the public need to start by looking at young homeless children as just that: children.

Copyright 2014 Sky News   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 733 days ago   Article ID# 1547208

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