Aberlour Young Runaways Service (formerly Running: Other Choices) held a reception at the Scottish Parliament, hosted by George Adam MSP. The event is being held in conjunction with children’s charity, Railway Children and global insurance company, Aviva.
The reception, which took place on Wednesday 12 September, celebrated 10 years of Aberlour supporting Scotland’s young runaways through the Young Runaways Service, and will include a special video message from Children’s Laureate, Julia Donaldson MBE.
Since 2001 Aberlour have been providing support to this extremely vulnerable group of young people and currently, with the kind assistance of Railway Children, Aviva, provide a range of supportive services including Scotland’s only refuge for those young runaways who often run away from neglect and abuse at home.
Over 9,000 children under the age of 16 run away each year in Scotland and 1 in 6 of those will experience some kind of either physical or sexual assault whilst running. Shockingly, only a third will be reported missing.
Ken Dunbar, Chief Executive of Aberlour Child Care Trust said, “It’s important that we celebrate the ten years of successes that we’ve had with the Aberlour Young Runaways Service, but we need to keep things in perspective; young people in Scotland are still running away, and still need support from organisations like ourselves, so we must do more to help young people before they reach crisis point.
“Without the generous support of our partners Railway Children, Aviva and the STV Appeal, Aberlour Young Runaways Service could not have made nearly as big an impact and difference to the lives of the young people we’ve worked with over the years. Glasgow and South Lanarkshire Local Authorities have worked extremely closely with this service and we are keen to work more intensely with other local authorities to ensure we meet the rights and needs of young runaways in Scotland.”
George Adam MSP, who is hosting the reception at the Parliament said, “For the past ten years, Aberlour Young Runaways Service has done an excellent job of helping and supporting young people in Scotland who have or have been about to, run away. I’m really pleased to be supporting Aberlour to mark this milestone, and look forward to hearing more about their plans for the future.”
Sharon Orr, Corporate Responsibility Manager at Aviva commented: “The numbers of children running away in Scotland every year is truly shocking – the fact that this is such a hidden problem in our society makes it hard to believe it’s actually taking place on our own doorsteps. Through Aviva’s Street to School programme, we are delighted to have been able to continue working with Railway Children to support the crucial services provided by Aberlour Young Runaways Service, allowing us to directly help in protecting young people at risk in Scotland.”
Andy McCullough, Head of UK Policy and Affairs for Railway Children added: ”With cuts to frontline children’s services left, right and centre, Aberlour Young Runaways Service has to be one of the real success stories at a time when good news is scarce. The work Railway Children does with Aberlour is all about making it easier for children at risk on the streets to come forward, because as long as they feel their only choice is to hide in the shadows, the number of children at risk of exploitation and violence will continue to spiral.”
Elizabeth Partyka, Deputy Director of Channels at STV, said: “The STV Appeal is committed to helping Scotland’s most vulnerable children and the scale and impact of young runaways in Scotland is shocking. This is why we are proud that the Aberlour Young Runaways Service is one of the projects we support. The annual STV Appeal highlights to the public the harsh reality of poverty amongst Scottish children and it is so important that every penny raised is spent in Scotland on worthwhile projects that make a difference in the lives of children that need it the most.”