Every year many hundreds of children and young people in Bolton go missing from their family homes, from school and from the ‘looked after’ system. We developed RUNA (Remember UR Not Alone) in response to this crisis. Our RUNA team works alongside Greater Manchester Police, Bolton Council, parents, carers and local schools to ensure runaways are returned safely and as quickly as possible. The service provides advice, guidance and support to the children and young people who have gone missing and those who are at risk of running away.
Our RUNA workers make contact with every child who is reported missing to the police in Bolton. They work closely with police officers in carrying out independent return interviews with young people, alongside ‘safe and well’ checks. They discuss the dangers and address the problems which cause children to run away. They support both the young person and their family in order to minimise future risks. RUNA links up with other professionals in taking co-ordinated action around children at risk of harm and exploitation.
With the support of Bolton Council, we provide a ‘Response’ service which is triggered each time a ‘missing’ report is filed. In additional we receive funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner and from the Big Lottery (Reaching Communities) to provide a ‘Support’ service. This supports children at repeat risk of running, but who fall under the threshold for statutory agency intervention.
A unique aspect of our service is the joint visits and intelligence sharing arrangements we have with Greater Manchester Police, who have placed a dedicated ‘Missing from Home’ officer to work alongside our staff. The continued success of our joint work in Bolton is now being used as a model for other areas. This is exemplified through our involvement with the Greater Manchester ‘Missing from Home’ Forum.
Client's Stories - Runa
Over the past year, there were 1,964 individual reports to the police of missing children in Bolton (down by 224 [9%] from 2,188 in the previous year). This related to 557 individuals (609 in the previous year). We carried out a total of 1559 return interviews (down from 1,834 in the previous year).
Over this period we are pleased to report that 87% of our return interviews with young people were conducted within the 72 hour government target (up 2% from 85% in the previous year). This is excellent when compared with the national average of 56%. All this illustrates the positive impact made by our RUNA service over recent years.
16.6% of all incidents over the past year concerned children who went missing between two and five times, (up 8% from 8.6% in the previous year). This shows a recent trend of fewer individuals and fewer missing events. However, a higher portion of young people who went missing last year had repeated episodes.
We asked the young people we engaged with, how they felt at both at the start and end of our involvement. 78% said they felt things had improved (up 1% from 77% in the previous year), 21% of young people felt that things had remained the same and 1% considered that things had got worse.
We also try to get parental feedback on the service we have provided. 100% of those we spoke to confirmed that our service had been clearly explained and found our workers very approachable. 84% said that we had positively helped their child to address issues which contributed to them going missing. 85% felt their child was better equipped to deal with crisis situations as a result. Some of the comments we received from parents are:
“I used to ring a lot and RUNA would always speak to me and help often.”
“The worker was brilliant!”
“RUNA has helped and he is always home at a reasonable time now.’
“She has been in for her GCSEs and not taken drugs or alcohol since we received support from RUNA”.
“She has not been missing since. RUNA did a really good job and got on with her well. They got on the same level.”
“We talk to each other more. We used to argue a lot.”
“She is sticking to curfews and we are talking to each other more.”
“I still have the RUNA number and would ring if I needed to.”
You can read Garry’s Story as told by his Head Teacher here.