Felixstowe to pilot runaway scheme
POTENTIAL problems with runaway teenagers has led to Felixstowe being chosen as one of four places nationally for a new pilot scheme.The resort has been identified as a place suffering problems with youngsters running away from home – and one where it is feared the situation could worsen without active help.
POTENTIAL problems with runaway teenagers has led to Felixstowe being chosen as one of four places nationally for a new pilot scheme.
The resort has been identified as a place suffering problems with youngsters running away from home – and one where it is feared the situation could worsen without active help.
A Safe Moves scheme has now been set up to help families sort out their problems and try to prevent the children leaving home and ending up living on the streets.
And it is already proving its worth – with 18 referrals to the project in its first three days of operation.
Co-ordinator Samara Backhouse – previously centre manager with the Level2 youth project in Felixstowe – will be guiding the youngsters through their problems, working with other agencies.
"Runaways come from all social backgrounds, but social deprivation is often a factor in their background," she said.
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"Relationship problems, abuse, and domestic violence also figure in many of the stories which they tell.
"The aim is to help young people stay in their home with support and mediation, or find a safe suitable alternative for them, short-term or long-term.
"At times a problem can be resolved through short term foster care or other suitable provision until a trained family mediator has helped everyone understand the problem and find the way to work through it.
"At other times the problem is so severe that it cannot be just talked through, but requires the intervention of several agencies"
The Safe Moves project builds on pioneering work in eight London boroughs to draw together agencies whose work would help a runaway and their family – focussing on the needs of the young person as the priority.
Now the challenge is to transfer this new way of working to Felixstowe, where the scheme is based in the HEART Foyer housing project – host for the scheme – in Maidstone Road, Walton.
Other pilot projects are taking place in north Yorkshire, Wolverhampton and Birmingham.
New legislation has meant district councils are responsible for the safe housing of under 18s and so Safe Moves feels will have an important role to play in minimising the problems in the area for the young people and local authority.
Nationally the Foyer Federation has been working with the Connexions youth service to try to reverse the growing number of young homeless people in the UK. Partnerships are then set up for projects with Social Services, Youth Offending Teams and voluntary sector agencies.
They identify young people at risk of homelessness and involve Safe Moves staff to help find a solution.
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