This paper reports the findings of a 3-month survey of young people calling the Message Home helpline. Message Home is a national freephone helpline available to people who have run away or left home which allows them to send a message to their family or carer, to seek confidential help and advice and, if necessary, to be helped to a place of safety. The paper explores the characteristics, circumstances and motivations of the young people contacting the helpline. It also considers who the young people contacted through the helpline and the kinds of messages that were relayed to parents, social services and others. This study differs from most preceding studies of runaways in recording the views of young people while they are missing. The immediacy palpable in their accounts highlights the distress and isolation experienced by many of these young people who have run away or been forced to leave home.
- child welfare