Have you run away? Left home or planning to? If you are living away from home you may need help too.


If you have left in a hurry or run away your first priority is somewhere safe to stay.

You need to know

  • Where to go to be safe or get help

  • How to send a message to let them know you are ok

  • What to do if you change your mind and would like to go back

  • What to do if you definitely don't want to go back and are afraid someone will make you.

You also need to think about money, food, clothes and your education or work. It is very easy for young people to end up sleeping rough and getting drawn into crime, alcohol, drugs or prostitution just to survive.

So if you are thinking of running away, read this first, and some advice from Mising Kids as well as a video to make you think :


If you or someone you know is sleeping rough, you can get help through Streetlink. They get in touch with the local authority to help connect the person to local services and support and they follow it up in 10 days to make sure something happened.

There are short- and long-term solutions for young people who need or want to live away from their original home. You don't have to end up on the streets. If you think the only way you will get any help is to do that, you need to understand that the definition of homeless is not just literally being on the streets - "you may be considered legally homeless if the place you live is unsafe, unsuitable or you have no legal right to be there. You can be legally homeless if you’re staying with friends or another family for a while. You don’t have to be sleeping rough to be homeless" according to the gov.uk site.

Shelter have a freephone advice line for anything to do with housing or homelessness - call  0808 800 4444, 8am-8pm Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm Saturday-Sunday. Whatever your situation there is some information and advice for you as well as links to local help.

The gov.uk site explains what a council is obliged to provide as emergency accommodation depending on your circumstances and including if you are under 18.

Cambridge City Council can be contacted on 01223 457918. If you need to speak to somebody out of office hours you can call  01706 242818. If you have a connection with the area and they consider you a priority (for example being 16 or 17) and homeless, they may find you temporary accommodation. They can also help you understand your options for rented accommodation although it is unlikely that you can do this under the age of 18.

The YMCA have accommodation in Cambridge and two sites in Peterborough where residents can stay for up to two years and there is help and support for rebuilding your life.

You can search Homeless UK for information on more than 9,000 services - hostels, day centres and other advice and support services for homeless people and those at risk of homelessness. Depending on where you live, there are charities and organisations providing help, support and accommodation for young people.

Run away?

Runaway Helpline is free, confidential and 24/7: call or text 116 000 (text even if you have no credit on your phone) or email 116000@missingpeople.org.uk. They will talk to you in confidence to explain your options and try to get you the help you want. They won’t tell anybody you have called unless you want them to. Your calls, emails or texts cannot be traced. Contact them or checkout the Turn2 Directory for local help.

And if you just want to let someone know you are ok, send a message. If you are over 18 you can use their message home service, or go to a police station. If you are under 18 and especially under 16, the police have to tell your parent(s) or guardian where you are (although you will still be protected if you have suffered abuse or violence).

Whatever your difficulties in the past, someone may be worrying about you and would be relieved to hear some news.

Leaving care

The gov.uk site explains that the state is obliged to look after you until you are 21 and sets out what should happen before and when you leave care.

Afraid of being sent back?

Don't be afraid to tell someone and ask for help and advice.

They will only intervene or contact your family if you ask them to or you are in great danger and need immediate protection. The most important thing is always that you are somewhere safe, not that you go back. If you left because you were being abused or something else very wrong happening, you can get help from the specialist services and refuges. Some of these deal especially with people from other cultural backgrounds where the abuse might be specific - eg, forced marriage or honour-based violence. Whatever kind of abuse you suffered, you didn't deserve it and you shouldn't be homeless because someone else was in the wrong. Checkout the reasons you might have needed to leave : being abused , domestic violence and abuse, where you live, and cultural differences for the people who can help in those particular circumstances.

Want to go back?

If you think things could improve, you have sorted out your own problems, or you just walked out after a row without thinking it through, maybe you might want to go back. Talk it over with someone outside the family, especially if you think your family may not easily forgive you, understand why you left, or need to change. There is counselling and mediation available to help you get on better with each other at home and deal with your problems.

If the problem was more to do with the state of your home or where it was, for example if it was very dirty or damp, overcrowded or in a neighbourhood which was unsafe for you, there are ways of getting help to live somewhere better for you. If you think you would be better off in care you can talk to social services.

If you are old enough to rent somewhere yourself, find out more about how to find and apply for rented property from Cambridge City Council's housing website.

Think you could manage on your own?

There's a lot to be said for independent living, but a lot of stuff you might not have thought about first. Before you rush off into the big wide world, Young Livin' from Kingston council point out " Moving out is a massive step and something you have to give a lot of thought. However independent you feel now, you probably don't realise how much you rely on your parents/carers. Little things like your toothpaste, the toilet roll, heating bills, etc. Can you honestly tell us you know the average price for a pack of 4 bog rolls?" 
"Things to consider:
 Rent and deposit: How much is the landlord is asking for and who will pay it? Bills: How much are bills going to be (for example, food, electricity, gas, and council tax)? Spending money: Will you have any money left over to spend on yourself? Domestic chores: Are you happy doing you own washing, cooking and cleaning? Furniture: If you're moving into a furnished or part-furnished place, what do they provide and what else will you need? If  you're moving into an unfurnished place, you'll have to consider everything (for example, a bed, sofa, table, chairs). Budget: Work out your budget, which is how much money you earn / receive versus expenses. Time: Try and give yourself as much time as possible before you leave home because there are lots of things to plan and sort out."

Are you living away from home and finding it hard? Are you worried because you are going to be going away soon and not sure if you can cope?

You may have gone away to college, university, work or joined the Armed Forces. Your family or you may have moved apart from choice. But you might still find it hard to cope.

Universities have advice and information for new students. You can see an example of the kind of help that is offered in Keele University's guide to living away from home. If you are living away from home as an apprentice, there are money saving tips and advice on the apprentice.org website and much of this appplies whether or not you are an apprentice!

sad girlYou might be feeling lonely or isolated on your own. You might be struggling with your work or your studies. Take some ideas on how to get help to cope from our section on work and being in education. If you are finding it hard to survive financially, you might want to get some ideas how to deal with money troubles. If you are a student or in the forces, there are counsellors or chaplains there to talk to. Keeping in touch with your family and friends when you are away is important but don't let it take the place of making new friends and settling where you are. Find ways of getting a social life and having fun, developing your potential and even volunteering - get more out of life to help you feel more confident and settled.  

Being disabled or ill means you have extra things to consider if you want to leave or live away from home. There is also special advice and information for people with Aspergers who are living away from home.

The page was last updated on 02 July 2014 by andrea.bateman.

This is a printable version of https://www.cpft.nhs.uk/GTRT/Left-home-or-run-away.htm?pr=