New lifeline for Wigan runaways

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A new service launches today offering wrap-around support for vulnerable young Wigan people who go missing.

The Children’s Society’s Footsteps service covers all 10 Greater Manchester areas with £400,000 in funding from Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd.

The launch comes as new National Crime Agency figures show the number of missing children to North West police rose by 21 per cent from 25,403 to 30,819 (and from 13,673 to 16,457 in Greater Manchester). The report says this may be due to greater awareness of the issue within forces leading to improved recording practices.

Under the two-year service, The Children’s Society, in partnership with charities Urban Outreach and 42nd Street, will work with young people who have been reported missing between two and five times in the last 12 months.

They will look at the issues causing young people to go missing and get them the tailored support they need to help address these, involving families and carers where appropriate. It is hoped that with this help they will be less likely to run away again in future.

Society area manager Paul Maher said: “When a child or young person goes missing they can be at risk of serious harm, including from child sexual exploitation. We know from experience that getting them tailored support to address some of these issues that lead to them going missing - such as family breakdown, drugs and mental health – can be vital. By offering this same early support to children and young people who have begun to go missing across Greater Manchester we hope we can get even more of them the help they need before they come to harm.”

Mr Lloyd, said: “When a child or young person goes missing it is often a cry for help. We have a responsibility – a moral duty – to reach out to that child and safeguard them from harm, criminality, and exploitation. This ground-breaking service will be that lifeline, giving young people a voice and working with them to address the issues that are making them run away in the first place.”