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Page last updated at 11:33 GMT, Friday, 5 December 2008
More runaways using text service

By Charlotte Ashton
Revealed presenter

Kevin Gosden, Charlotte and wife Glenys
Kevin Gosden (left), with daughter Charlotte (centre) and wife Glenys

There's been a dramatic increase in the number of young runaways contacting the UK's main helpline for missing people since the launch of a free-to-text service.

Approximately 140,000 under-18s are reported missing every year.

Most of them will turn up safe and well within a couple of days, but thousands end up having to sleep rough.

A new free-to-text service run by the Missing People charity launched last week and received 100 texts from missing children in the first seven days.


Getting information out there can be so important to try and locate people

Glenys Gosden, mum of missing 14-year-old boy Andrew

But the mum of a teenager who has been missing for more than a year says that there aren't adequate systems in place to trace missing people.

Glenys Gosden's son Andrew ran away from home in Doncaster in September last year.

He was spotted on CCTV leaving King's Cross station in London but there haven't been any confirmed sightings of him since.

Glenys says that charities like Missing People need more funding.

She said: "It's those vital early hours, and early days.

"Getting information out there can be so important to try and locate people and unfortunately a lot of that time was lost in Andrew's case.

"We don't know if he's alive. We would just love to hear.

"Just a phone call via Missing People, a postcard from miles away just with his writing on, just so we can feel that that's genuinely him and he's alive and living the life he's chosen would just mean so much to us."

Sleeping rough

It's difficult legally for adult homeless hostels to take responsibility for under-18s and there are only 12 beds for under-16s in shelters the whole of the UK.

Ismael, 18, managed to get one of those beds after running away from home following a fight with his mum.

He said: "This place just really saved me, it was part of my journey. If it wasn't for here I don't know what I would have done.

"I'd have probably slept rough and there was no way I was going to do that."

Andrew Gosden
Andrew Gosden was spotted on CCTV at King's Cross Station
In one study more than 10% of young runaways said they were sexually abused after running away and 15% were hurt physically.

Young people living in residential care are around three times more likely to run away than young people living with families.

Danny, 20, has been homeless in Leeds for four years after running away from care.

Some nights he manages to get a bed in a hostel but he regularly sleeps on the streets.

"People scream and shout at you, abuse you, just because you are homeless.

"There's been a few times I've just wanted to curl up in a ball and die, because I've felt that low.

"I've made friends with a couple of lads between 16 and 17. It does make you think that they should be home with their mums... or with someone who can look after them properly."

Runaway Helpline can be contacted by text (80234), email (runaway@missingpeople.org.uk) and phone (Freefone 0808 800 8080).

Revealed....Missing People is on BBC Two on Saturday 6 December at 1.45pm.

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