Charity warns about child homelessness

Charity warns about child homelessness

More than one in four children surveyed in Northern Ireland have thought about running away - with half admitting to spending a night away from home without telling their parents, a charity has said.

Action for Children's survey of 100 children in Northern Ireland also revealed that almost half ran away because of arguments with family members and 29% believed their parents didn't want them and would be better off without them. One fifth said they know another child who regularly sleeps away from home because of problems within their family.The leading charity surveyed eight to 16-year-olds to find out what makes children want to leave home ahead of Byte Night Belfast, an event which will see people bed down for the night outside the Belfast Activity Centre in south Belfast to raise vital funds for youth homelessness. Dawn Shaw, operational director of children's services at Action for Children in Northern Ireland, said: "Homelessness can happen to anyone's child. Our research shows that children as young as eight think about running away - and more than one in 10 in Northern Ireland go through with it. "We want to help families repair broken relationships before the idea of running away becomes the reality of a night on the streets."She added: "Each year, the Northern Irish business and technology sectors spend a night exposed to the elements in aid of youth homelessness. This might not seem like much fun, but in the morning our sleepers can go home to a warm bed and full fridge. "Sadly this isn't the case for homeless young people - and that's why we need people to support us by sleeping out on Byte Night."Byte Night Belfast funding is used to support Action for Children's Sperrin and Lakeland Floating Support Service which works with young people and care-leavers who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. One girl, who cannot be named, first started using the Sperrin and Lakeland Floating Support Service when she was 17. "My relationship had broken down with my mum and it was getting worse, I just had to get out of that situation," she explained."I was sleeping on a friend's sofa and other friends would give me food and wash my clothes or let me have a shower. I hadn't a clue what I was doing. "Action for Children helped me get somewhere to live and the skills I needed to be able to get a job. I honestly don't know where I would be or what I'd be doing now if it wasn't for Action for Children's help."


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