Yesterday I was privileged to attend a reception hosted by Samantha Cameron at 10 Downing Street for the incredibly important charity, Railway Children, on behalf of that genuine force for positive action, Mumsnet.
Once I had got over the fact that I was treading the hallowed corridors of power (me! On That Staircase! And I didn’t trip over once, drop anything or cough over a canape, minor miracles, thank the gods!!) I settled down to the much more serious business of finding out more about Railway Children and their grass roots partners across the country, all supported by Aviva. We were teed up at an informative and informal meet-and-greet at a nearby hotel first and it was inspirational to meet people who dedicated their time and energy to helping young people who for whatever reason had run away from home. What struck me was the qualities these organisations have in common – determination, commitment and the energy to refuse to accept the current situation of these young people on our streets, and therefore to generate a true force for change. That energy alone has to be enough to make a difference – I have come home invigorated, inspired and truly wanting to get involved.
Here is the fact, the core fact: a child runs away from home every five minutes. With a number like that, it is clearly a problem that knows no boundaries of social circumstances or background. This could be any of us, now or in the future. We need to have the conversations with our children starting now, however young, that say ‘we are here for you – if you run away you need to understand the reality’; we need to explain that life will never be perfect but that together we can find solutions. That running away is not an answer.
We are lucky there are organisations like Railway Children and its partners desiring to create a dramatic change to offer the support that these runaways so desperately need. But the reality is that there are not enough of them, and they are stretched so thin. We must all desire to create a difference which starts from the very top, central and local government policy acknowledging this problem and the need to tackle it – because I’m not scaremongering when I say, it really could happen to one of us.
The good people at Aviva will donate £2 for this post and for those who spend some time on the Mumsnet / Railway Children pages, so have a look (detailed information about what raises money via Mumsnet can be found here). It’s precious reading for every parent and an invaluable forum for open advice and support. Every 90 seconds you spend there, Aviva make a donation – valuable information that is quite literally valuable… Please do it.