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Runaways to get support

June 04 2014
New project tackles challenges faced by young people resulting from family relationship breakdown

A project which works to help prevent young runaways from becoming homeless in Tayside and Fife could be rolled out across Scotland.

The 'Safe and Sound' runaway project, run by Shelter Scotland in partnership with Relationship Scotland, tackles challenges faced by young people resulting from housing instability and family relationship breakdown.

In less than two years, the project has helped over 230 young people who have run away from home or are at risk of doing so, and prevented over a third of them becoming homeless at all.

It works with young people who have unstable family situations and might experience domestic violence and emotional difficulties. Many have been forced to leave their homes, or are threatened with having to.

The project's priority is to provide practical support for families and young people, helping them resolve the disputes and rebuild communication and trust between young people and their parents.

Shelter argues that 'Safe and Sound' provides a template which could be adopted across Scotland to help tackle the estimated 12,000 runaway incidents which occur each year and which most local support services are not set up or resourced to deal with.

In an independent evaluation of the project last month, researchers praised the positive contribution of the project and recommended that a way of building capacity and meeting the needs of new families and young people was found.

Sarah Morton, report author and co-director of the Knowledge Exchange at the University of Edinburgh, said: “I have rarely been involved in evaluating a project that has been so positively endorsed by the people, referral agencies and partners using it.

“The challenge ahead is how to build on this success to ensure that young people at risk of homelessness are never left with no one to turn to.?

Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, confirmed that the charity is looking to find ways in which similar services can be provided across Scotland.

“Today's runaways are tomorrow’s young homeless people, so 'Safe and Sound’s approach of early intervention is vitally important to prevent homelessness and address why children and young people run away,? he added.

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell also praised the ‘very positive results’ of the service.