Tayside and Central Scotland

Lottery-funded service to help young Scots runaways

vulnerable youngster
Image caption Almost 12,000 cases of young runaways are recorded each year in Scotland

A service to help young runaways has been launched with the help of £700,000 in Lottery funding.

Housing and homelessness charity Shelter Scotland has teamed up with Relationships Scotland to set up the "lifeline" scheme.

Almost 12,000 cases of young people running away from home are recorded every year in Scotland.

The new Safe and Sound initiative aims to help them return home safely or find them a home of their own.

The new service, which is based in Dundee, will see family mediators working with young people and their families in an attempt to resolve conflicts.

Research has found that youngsters who run away from home are at greater risk of becoming homeless when they are adults.

It is also believed that 84% of homeless people under the age of 25 had run away from home before the age of 16, compared with just 11% for young people generally.

One in five runaways who are now homeless first fled their family home before the age of 11.

Just over a quarter of young runaways slept rough the last time they left their family, while one in six were either physically or sexually assaulted while running away.

Shelter Scotland director Graeme Brown said: "Today's runaways are tomorrow's young homeless people. If we are serious about preventing homelessness then addressing why children and young people run away is essential.

"This project is early intervention in action, offering a lifeline for many young people and their families.

"We look forward to working with (services network) Relationships Scotland in offering help to those who need it most and, where possible, preventing homelessness by facilitating the safe return of young runaways to their family home.

"Where this is not possible we will help them to find and keep a home of their own, while continuing to support them through the family mediation service to sustain and improve family relationships."

Amy Lorimer, a family mediator with Relationships Scotland, said the service would help young people and their families to "work through their conflict and develop mutually agreed ways to move forward".

She added that this would strengthen family relationships "whether this means managing their relationship in one home or by living in different homes, but maintaining the support of their family".

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