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Running Away

Sometimes running away can feel like your only option. You might want to run away because of: 

  • family arguments 
  • feeling unhappy in care 
  • being hurt or abused 
  • wanting to live with someone else 
  • things happening at school or bullying 
  • how you’re feeling. 

Whatever’s happening, there is support here for you. Whether you’ve run away or are thinking about it you can speak to a Childline counsellor. 


Running away is always dangerous, even when you’ve planned what you want to do. If you’re not sure if you should run away, there are things you could do that might help. 

Think about your options 

Running away can sometimes feel like your only option. But there are always other things you can do to stay safe and cope. 

  • Tell your family or carers how you feel
    If it’s safe to, telling someone how difficult things are can help them support you better. If you’re not sure what to say or how to start the conversation you could try writing a letter. 
  • Talk to an adult you trust
    Talking to someone outside of your family can help get you the support you need. 
  • Make a safety plan
    A safety plan includes what do to if something happens at home, it includes who to contact in an emergency and safe places you can go. 
  • Talk to Childline
    Talking to Childline if you’re thinking about running away can help you to think about what else you can do. 

Arrange to spend time away 

If things are difficult at home, taking a break can really help. You could ask your parents or carers about spending time with extended family or a friend you trust. 

If you don’t feel able to or can’t spend time away from home, there are lots of ways you can try to take a break and cope. You could: 

  • make time each day to do something you enjoy 
  • distract yourself with a video or music 
  • let your feelings out in a mood journal or  Art box 
  • talk to Childline about what’s happening. 

Running away is always dangerous and it’s important to think about your safety if you do decide to run. 

Remember, you can talk to a Childline counsellor any time, even if you’ve run away. 

Think about what to take with you 

It’s important to plan what you’ll need to stay safe. Make sure you take: 

  • important phone numbers and addresses and make sure you write them down in case your phone loses battery 
  • information on how to contact Childline or the Runaway Helpline for support 
  • any medication you need 
  • a charger for your phone 
  • money for travel if you need it, and your bus or train pass if you have one 
  • some food and a bottle for water 
  • clothes that are warm enough if it gets cold or late. 

Make sure that if you’re planning on going somewhere safe you know where it is and how to get there. 

Go somewhere safe 

Running away can be unsafe, especially if you don’t have somewhere safe to go. Travelling to a different town or somewhere you haven’t been to before is a bad idea. But you could think about: 

  • going to a friend’s home 
  • staying with a relative you feel safe with 
  • going to a police station 
  • staying away from places that you don’t know or don’t feel safe in. 

Not everywhere you could stay will be safe. If you go somewhere and don’t feel safe, you can phone Childline on 0800 1111 or the police on 999 or 101 any time. 

Staying safe after you’ve run away 

If you’re unsafe at home, running away might feel like the only safe thing to do. But it’s important to make sure you’re safe if you do. 

  • Keep in contact with people
    Tell a friend or relative you trust where you’re going and what’s happening. If you have a social worker, you could also let them what’s going on. 
  • Be careful about offers to help
    If you need help or advice, talk to Childline or the Runaway Helpline. If you need directions, ask in a train station or shop. Never get into a car if a stranger offers you a lift or somewhere to stay. 
  • If you’re unsafe, call the police
    You can call 999 or go to a police station any time. If you’re unsafe at home, they can support you as well. 

You might want to run away from care because you’re: 

  • not getting on with the staff or foster carers you live with 
  • being bullied by other children in the same care home 
  • being bullied about living in care 
  • wanting to live with someone else, like friends or family. 

Living in care can be difficult, especially if decisions are being made that you don’t agree with. Remember, you’ve got the right to be heard if you’re unhappy with what’s happening. 

If you’re not being listened to, you can speak to Childline any time or get support from Coram Voice. 

We’ve got advice on what to do if you’ve already run away. 

  • Get support
    Talk to a Childline counsellor or the Runaway Helpline for confidential support and advice. 
  • Go somewhere safe
    This could be a relative, police station or a friend you feel safe with. 
  • Know your rights
    You have the right to be safe, even if you’re not at home. Talking to the police about why you’ve run away and what’s happening means that they can support you and you can tell them if you’re safe. 
  • Keep in contact with people
  • Keep your phone on or turn it on regularly to check for messages. Make sure you tell people where you are and where you’re going. 
  • Plan where to go if you’re unsafe
    Stay in well-lit places and don’t take offers of help from strangers or people you don’t trust. If you’re feeling unsafe, try going into a shop or café and speaking to a member of staff. 

There are lots of reasons you might go back to where you live. You could decide that it’s the best thing to do for now or you might be brought back by the police or someone else. 

You also might not be ready to tell people why you ran away or what happened when you did. You might think that you won’t be believed or worry about what will happen next. Talking about what’s happening can be tough but you don’t have to cope alone. 

You don’t need to be missing to get support. If things are still difficult but you’re struggling to talk, it can help to: 

  • try telling people what’s happened in a letter or by writing it down 
  • planning things you can do to cope while you’re back home 
  • read about other young people’s experiences on the message boards. 


Report a concern with a child 

The safety and welfare of children – or child protection – is everybody’s business.​​​​ 

You could be a neighbour, friend, parent, relative, child-minder, teacher, doctor or working for ​any organisation which has contact with children and young people. 

In an emergency please dial 999​. 

Otherwise you can contact the Child Protection Team: 

Monday to Friday (9am to 5pm) – 01708 433222 

Out of hours/weekends – 01708 433999​ 

Make a referral online  

Or use the document based referral form and email it to 

Talk to a Childline counsellor any time. 

Runaway Helpline
Get support and advice if you want to run away or if you already have. 

Coram Voice
If you’re in care, they can help you to make sure you’re listened to. 

You can get help from the police any time by calling 101, or 999 in an emergency. 

Housing advice and support.