British pop star, Alexandra Burke, Railway Children’s UK Ambassador, has visited her old secondary school in Islington to help launch new services to support young runaways and children at risk in London.
Every year in Britain an estimated 100,000 young people under 16 run away from home. One in six of these ends up sleeping rough.
Says Alexandra Burke, “It’s shocking that here in the UK children are ending up alone and at risk on our streets. This affects every one of us.
“It’s not just something that happens in other countries, it’s happening right now in our communities and on our streets. We need to start shouting about it.
“I hope that as an Ambassador to Railway Children I can help spread the word.
“When I was young, at this very school, I was lucky enough to be encouraged by those around me to follow my dreams.
“Not every child is lucky enough to have such great support and that’s why projects that reach out to kids on the ground are so important.
“If you’re facing tough times at home and feel you have nowhere else to turn and are thinking about running away, remember – support is out there to help you. Don’t suffer in silence.”
As part of Railway Children’s collaborative work with its corporate partner Aviva, a £300,000 investment over the next three years will extend the existing Miss U service in Camden and fund new services in Islington and Haringey.
This is a multi-agency approach between Railway Children, Aviva, North London local authorities and Barnardo’s.
Says Terina Keene Railway Children Chief Executive, “Having survived a very difficult home environment, many young runaways lose their trust in adults and see the streets as their only alternative if they feel they cannot live at home any longer.
“Faced with limited choices and not knowing where to turn, many vulnerable young runaways end up living alone on the streets, where they are at risk of violence, sexual abuse and drug or alcohol dependency.
“It’s vital we reach these children before they come to further harm.”