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Running away from home

Thousands of young people run away from home every year. There are many reasons why you may feel like running away, like abuse or physical violence. If you are unhappy and feel like leaving home, free and confidential advice is available to help you stay safe or work out your problems.

It’s difficult to know for sure how many people go missing or run away from home in the UK. This is because cases of missing people are often not reported or recorded.

Missing young people are more likely to be reported to the police, because their parents, carers and friends become concerned about their whereabouts and safety.

Based on police figures, the Children’s Society estimate that around 100,000 people under 18 years old go missing every year. That works out at one young person going missing every five minutes.

There are many reasons why teenagers leave home without telling anyone.

These reasons include:

  • arguments with a parent or other relative
  • stress
  • abuse or violence at home
  • worries about money and debt
  • being thrown out of their home by a parent or carer
  • problems with drugs or alcohol

For many teenagers, the actual decision to run away is taken on the spur of the moment. This means that someone who runs away has not thought about:

  • where they will go
  • where they will sleep
  • how they will get access to money
  • the effect their decision will have on family members

Even if life at home is becoming unbearable, running away might not be the best option, even if it seems like the only one.

If you’ve been forced to leave home or are thinking about running away, there are lots of free helplines you can contact for more information.

The Runaway Helpline

The Runaway Helpline is for anyone under 18 years old who has run away from home and needs help and advice. You can also use the helpline if you’re thinking about running away.

The Runaway Helpline can help you get a message back to your parents to let them you know that you’re safe.

All contact with the Runaway Helpline is confidential, and the advisers can’t find out where you are unless you choose to tell them.

You can get in touch with the helpline by phone, text, email or on the website - see contact information below.


ChildLine advisers are trained to help with any problems that you’re having at home that are making you think about running away.

Calls to ChildLine are completely confidential and free, even if you call from a mobile phone - see contact details below

Contact information

Further advice and information is available from the Missing People website.

The Runaway Helpline
Telephone: 0808 800 7070
Text: 80234 You can text us even if you have no credit left on your mobile phone.

Telephone: 0800 1111
Or visit the website.

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Phone our contact centre: 01543 308 000
District Council House, Frog Lane, Lichfield, Staffs, WS13 6YY

If you need to contact a team direct, please visit our contacts page for team phone numbers and email addresses.

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Our main reception at Frog Lane in Lichfield is open Monday - Friday, 8.45am - 5.15pm. Our phone lines close at 5pm.