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Railway Children – a great cause to support

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I ran away from home when I was a teenager. I didn’t do a particularly good job of it. After a few hours I phoned home from a call box (remember them?) and asked for someone to come and pick me up from a nearby village.Run away

My running away was the result of a petty teenage dispute. I can’t recall exactly what the problem was, but I felt my mother and stepfather were oppressing me. In a grand gesture, the note I left behind quoted lyrics from dreadful eighties rock band Twisted Sister. From one of the band’s most famous songs I quoted the chorus “I am, I’m me”.

While it makes me cringe, I can look back on the experience and laugh. I was fortunate enough to come from a loving home. Sure, my family and I had our problems but a couple of decades later I can see the issues I was running away from maybe weren’t that big.

As I say, I was fortunate to come from a loving home. There are many runaways out there that are leaving the most horrible situations and would prefer to live on the streets.

It’s all the more poignant to remember these runaways at this time of year. It’s been estimated that 2,000 children are likely to run away over the Christmas period and that a child runs away from home or care every five minutes in the UK. That’s why I’m supporting Mumsnet and its charity partner Aviva as they attempt to raise £200,000 for Railway Children, an international children’s charity that fights for and works with vulnerable children who live alone at risk on the streets.

For each Mumsnet blogger that posts about the subject, Aviva will donate £2 to the cause. A further £2 will be donated for every comment left below.

You are therefore encouraged to comment. Maybe you’d like to share your own experience of running away?

If you’d like to learn more about this campaign or Railway Children then please follow this link.

23 thoughts on “Railway Children – a great cause to support”

  1. Well done that man! Great cause. However, you might require some help with your Twisted Sister issues. Have you considered therapy? 😉

    1. Ah ha Mr Idle Bligger, great to hear from you!

      No need to worry too much about the Twisted Sister issue. It is at least 20 years since I listened to the band’s music.

  2. I never ran away from home, but I remember thinking about it loads as a child. Always had birthdays or Christmas (greed!) around to keep me at home though! I’ve blogged about this too, lets hope we can help raise them lots of cash 🙂

  3. My teenage attempts at running away were equally short lived. I remember planning to hide in a big furniture store when it was closing so I could sleep in one of the beds in the showroom. After wandering around for a few hours I eventually walked home in the dark. A very good cause to support.

    1. Probably just as well neither of our attempts at running away were a success. Thanks for taking the time to comment Andy and hope you had a good Christmas and all the best for 2013.

  4. To run away a child has to have already done so – in their imagination. The unfortunate bit, for them and for those who love them, is that the imagined outcome and the real one are so very far apart.

    Running away is equal parts courage and hopelessness, bravado and fear. The only true thing about all runaways is that each of them has been seriously let down by the adults surrounding them. Parents and educators at the top, but also the ring of adults (relatives, neighbors, perhaps clergy) who, had they not turned away, might have made the difference. The runaway children are the direct result of the failure of the only safety net they’ve ever known – the grownups.

    Of course it’s so much more complicated than that. There are so many elements to consider that it’s often overwhelming, even to those best positioned to do so. Let me tell you what we’ve done in Oregon.

    A number of groups – local charities, county & state government agencies, local business supporters – came together and formed a loose coalition focused on helping kids who’ve run away already, and reaching out to those who might be at risk. Primary element: a safe, non-judgmental place to go.

    It started with a big old Victorian house here in Salem. About to be foreclosed, it was given to the City, and transferred into trust. Volunteers (a large number of teens!) working with professional contractors, converted it over a summer into a delightful, welcoming, safe place for teens who needed a meal, a shower, a warm bed, some laundry. No criminalization of their running away. Just strong, confident, caring adults ready to help.

    Kids can come and go. Counseling and health services are available. If allegations of sexual assault or other physical violence are made, the child is officially protected and fostered in a family setting until resolved

    The most important element in this effort is respect for its clients: the on-the-verge-of-adulthood teens. Sometimes this is the first time that has ever happened! All they’ve known is taking the directions of adults. Even if from an otherwise loving and capable family, a teen can become so frustrated with not being heard that running away seems like a better alternative. Imagine what that’s like if your mom’s new boyfriend is sexually aggressive, or is slapping you around, or dad’s an abusive drunk.

    Kids will always run away. Adults will always fail them. Preparing some strategically placed landing zones where they have a chance to re-establish some of that lost trust and, hopefully, can be pulled from the brink of disaster and set back on a positive path.

    1. Hi Maren – thank you ever so much for your detailed comments. It sounds like you have a very progressive and positive approach to providing assistance with runaways in Oregon. Just so you are aware, Railway Children operates internationally although I cannot say for certain whether it has a presence in the US.

      Very happy to have you following the blog Maren. I hope you enjoy!

      John

      1. Thanks John! I am so pleased to have been asked. You should know a couple of things, as they may sometimes inform any comments I make. First, I have never been a parent; and second I’m a great deal older than you may think. I will be 70 in July. When I think of kids, I just look at my timeline and smile. You all seem to be doing very well! You are quite correct though, I am very progressive. I’m active in local politics, and completely charmed by Croydon’s civic spirit, as well as it’s oligarch, Baron Kenley ;D

      1. The reference to Twisted Sister made me smile actually. Happened to watch Flight of the Navigator the other day and they used Twisted Sister as a cultural and period reference. Am sure it sounded fitting at the time…. 🙂

        I sponsor 1.5 rooms* for Centrepoint and hope in some way that I too can help runaways and those for whom ‘the family home’ is not the warm, safe and secure place we dream of.

        *as a New Year gift to myself I intend to up my donation to 0.5 a room this year

  5. I suspect your running away experience was quite different from many we now see highlighted today – as you observe yourself. I have been very fortunate and have always enjoyed a loving family and warm house to live within. Well done for raising the profile.

  6. Annis le Felling

    The numbers of children running away each year is a shocking statistic, but even more heartbreaking is the 2/3 of runaways who don’t even get reported as missing. The work of Railway Children is a great cause to support.

  7. I made it as far as the end of the drive before I came home, so you could call it half hearted, but the point is that many kids go through with it for a number of reasons. Ideally we should treat the cause but that’s easier said than done. Love and understanding is a good start.

  8. Some years ago, Railway Children helped the JUCONI Foundation in Mexico to develop a programme of “early intervention”. The programme was successful in helping us ensure that we reach the child and their family before all links are broken and the child moves permanently into street life. Working with the child’s family as well as the child, is crucial to achieving a successful outcome for everyone, including younger siblings in the family. I would urge everyone to give as generously and as often as possible to Railway Children! They will ensure every penny counts.

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